RESIDENTS are preparing to take on one of Britain’s biggest mobile phone companies after it unveiled plans to build a 50ft mast near their homes.
Vodaphone has applied for planning permission to construct the six-antenna telecommunications tower in Dykelands Road, Fulwell, in a bid to boost coverage in the area.
But householders living close to the proposed site have branded the design an eyesore, and have also raised health fears over the development.
After vowing to fight the plans, they are gearing up for a David and Goliath struggle with the global telecommunications firm.
TV aerial engineer George Sanderson, 52, lives in nearby Dunmore Avenue.
“Everytime I look out my back window, I going to see this thing,” he said. “You won’t be able to miss it.
“We’re not talking about one of these masts that are about the same size as a lamppost. This is a huge construction.
“All of the residents in the area are dead set against it.
“I don’t know why they have chosen this spot. It is completely inappropriate.”
A petition launched in objection to the plans has already attracted more than 200 signatures.
“Apart from the sight of it, there are also concerns about whether or not it is safe and how it will hit house prices,” said the dad-of-two. “There are a lot of families around here who have young children.
“We keep being given reassurances that the masts pose no danger, but it’s always in the back of your mind that they could cause health problems.
“I also doubt someone would want to move to an area where they would have something like this on their doorstep.”
Vodaphone today moved to reassure householders about the safety of phone masts, and stressed the need to build them in residential neighbourhoods.
A company spokeswoman said: “We are aware the some people have a number of concerns about masts, but we do ensure that all of our installations are designed and built in compliance with international guidelines.
“These guidelines are there to protect the public 24 hours a day, wherever they are in relation to the mast, whether it is one metre away or one mile away.”
She added: “In order to provide the services that our customers demand, the services that smartphones bring, you need to place masts locally where people live, work and travel.”
The plans are expected to go before Sunderland Council’s planning committee in the coming weeks.