Ongoing fears over St Albans phone masts

PUBLISHED: 11:26 06 March 2009 | UPDATED: 14:01 06 May 2010

CONCERNED residents turned out for a council cabinet meeting this week to reiterate concerns about telecom masts in their area. Residents of Gurney Court Road, St Albans, and surrounding streets are worried about the impact of an imminent planning applica

CONCERNED residents turned out for a council cabinet meeting this week to reiterate concerns about telecom masts in their area.

Residents of Gurney Court Road, St Albans, and surrounding streets are worried about the impact of an imminent planning application from O2 to install nine microcells in their area.

And their councillor Salih Gaygusuz accused the cabinet of appearing to have done nothing to resolve their efforts to persuade Herts County Council to take a more robust approach to the siting of telecoms masts and equipment in the district.

The cabinet is pressing the county to consider new guidelines for the positioning of masts on their land to give the district council more leverage at planning appeals.

Although county has a procedure in place for considering requests to put telecoms equipment on its land, it does not set out any specific criteria on which applications would be rejected.

That is in contrast to other authorities, such as Milton Keynes, which has a policy that it will not normally permit equipment on its land within 50 metres of residential properties, nurseries, playgroups, school grounds or medical facilities.

Cllr Gaygusuz said: "There have been dozens of meetings and residents are still in the dilemma they were in 2002. I am hoping to get a straightforward answer from cabinet about why they have failed to come with a policy like Milton Keynes or failed to protect residents of these locations."

He also questioned why the council, in its position as trustees of Clarence Park, had rejected a bid to build a large telecom installation there which had resulted in O2 looking at installing microcells in the Gurney Court Road area instead..

Cllr Gaygusuz said: "After seven years I am just confused by the lack of progress this cabinet has made to protect its own residents."

Labour group leader, Cllr Roma Mills, added: "Local residents have been indefatigable over this issue. There has to be something a bit more rigorous than we have heard in the last six months."

But sport and healthy living portfolio holder, Cllr Sheila Burton, pointed out that the cabinet was struggling with legislation which had been drawn up with the aim of making sure telecoms masts were given permission nationwide.

She said: "What we are trying to find is a loophole and I am sorry it has taken such a long time."

Planning portfolio holder, Cllr Chris Brazier, added: "At the end of the day if mobile providers want to put a mast somewhere we can't stop them.

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