Residents celebrate phone-mast victory
VIGILANT residents are celebrating after winning the first local victory against a phone mast firm. Their diligence paid off when it came to persuading the planning inspector to dismiss the Orange phone company s appeal for an eight-foot mast in Gurney C
VIGILANT residents are celebrating after winning the first local victory against a phone mast firm.
Their diligence paid off when it came to persuading the planning inspector to dismiss the Orange phone company's appeal for an eight-foot mast in Gurney Court Road at its junction with Sandpit Lane in St Albans.
The residents had used the fact that the Y-junction was an accident blackspot and was used by the police for mobile speed cameras and a hard-standing had been put there for that purpose.
Campaigner Richard Morgan of Gurney Court Road said: "Once we informed the police of the mast plan they wrote to the inspector objecting on the grounds that a mast and its cabinet would obscure the sightlines they needed for their cameras.
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"This was what won the day for us but unfortunately Orange won't go away. They are likely to come back and try again close by."
Orange have been trying for around five years to use this site to cover a gap in the Marshalswick area.
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St Albans District Council had originally resisted attempts by Orange to install a mast in Clarence Park but agreed to it when the phone firm instead submitted applications for a number of smaller masts in surrounding streets. Then the council rescinded that decision following legal advice which recommended they act in their capacity of charitable trustees of the park rather than as a local authority.
Planning portfolio holder Cllr Chris Brazier said: "With the public perception being that masts are bad for health, it would not be suitable to erect a mast near where children play."
But that means that Orange are likely to submit applications for a scattering of smaller masts around the area unless a site can be found to house a larger macro-cell mast.
Mr Morgan said: "What would be ideal is if a non-residential site near the station bridge in Hatfield Road could be found."
Cllr Brazier, who is still trying to persuade Herts County Council's officers and members to co-operate on a policy on phone masts, agreed that might be a solution.
He said: "I am trying to get phone firms on side as well but what we really need is for HCC to agree a minimum distance of 50 metres for phone masts from residential areas."
Although Milton Keynes, which is a unitary authority, has a phone mast planning policy, it is much harder to get agreement from HCC in conjunction with 11 other local authorities in the county.