Victory for Sunderland phone mast protestors

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A MOBILE phone mast scheme has been rejected after complaints from residents.

Telecommunications giant Vodafone had applied to Sunderland City Council for permission for a 17.5m column, containing six antennae, on a grass verge at Shepherd Way, Washington.

The mast would have been shared with rival company O² in a bid to improve 3G coverage in the Fatfield area for both of the operators.

But the application sparked 11 objections from people living near to the proposed site and has been now been refused by planning officers.

In a report, planning officers said the mast “would be an inappropriate form of development, appearing unduly obtrusive and injurious to the visual amenities of the area, and the residential amenities of nearby properties.”

In a design document submitted with the application, Vodafone had claimed the “appearance of the proposed column would not seriously impact upon the visual amenity of the area, nor would it form an obtrusive feature in the street scene”.

One of the objectors was John Clarke, who lives in Farrier Close, just 50 metres from where the radio base station would have been erected.

He was “delighted” to hear the planning application has been rejected and said the news would be welcomed by everyone living in the area.

As well as visual impact, in his submission to the council, Mr Clarke also questioned the need for the installation.

He said: “There are two O² masts situated within 500 metres of the proposed site, close to the junction of Pattinson Road and Northumbria Way.

“Added to this, there is also a Vodafone mast on Stirling Close on Pattinson Estate which is only a further 500 metres from the two O² masts.

“There would, therefore, appear to be no need for an additional 17.5-metre mast in such close proximity.”

Other issues raised by objectors included whether the development was appropriate in a residential area and if it would have a potential negative impact on property values.

There was also a fear that children might be tempted to climb the structure.

Vodafone said it was “disappointed” that application was refused, and would “make a thorough review of the reasons for refusal and the potential alternatives available”.

A spokeswoman said: “We recognise that some communities are concerned regarding the deployment of radio base stations close to residential areas, but without radio base stations, mobile phones will not be able to work.

“All of our base stations are designed, built and operated in accordance with stringent international guidelines laid down by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection.

“The adoption of these guidelines has the formal backing of independent bodies such as the World Health Organisation.

“Typical public exposures from our base stations will be many hundreds, if not thousands of times below these guidelines.”