Phone mast plan scrapped

PUBLISHED: 11:48 31 May 2007 | UPDATED: 15:06 12 May 2010

A CONTROVERSIAL plan to erect a 73ft mobile phone mast on the edge of a conservation area has been scrapped. But a mast about 40ft has been earmarked for a site in the vicinity. Mobile phone giants O2 originally planned to erect the massive mast on land a

A CONTROVERSIAL plan to erect a 73ft mobile phone mast on the edge of a conservation area has been scrapped.

But a mast about 40ft has been earmarked for a site in the vicinity.

Mobile phone giants O2 originally planned to erect the massive mast on land adjoining the Royston telephone exchange.

But the idea caused an immediate angry outcry from residents in Palace Gardens and Kneesworth Street.

The protest has led to Waldon Telcom - which was acting as agents for the National Grid Wireless - to abandon the scheme.

But the company told The Crow yesterday (Wednesday) that it was looking for alternative sites for the mast.

A spokesman said: "We have a few options, but nothing has been decided."

It is believed that the options could include placing the mast near to the Cardinal's Hat development or near to Royston Fire Station in Baldock Street.

John Cross, one of the original protesters, said: "It seems that the mast will be just 50 yards from the original site.

"All that is happening is that the goal posts are being moved," he said.

Originally, residents in Palace Gardens said the phone mast would "tower above listed buildings".

The erection of a different mast in the vicinity would still be on the edge of a conservation area.

This could lead to North Herts District Council refusing to give permission for the plan.

It told the company over the original plan in January that the scheme was "unlikely" to receive support because of the "detrimental impact" on the area.

The district council said the height of the mast gave it an "incongruous appearance" when set against the landscape and character of the area.

When residents learned of the original plan being scrapped, Dr Peter North, one of the campaigners, said: "This is the right decision.

"We hope that Waldon Telecom and O2 can achieve their business objectives by placing a mast at a more appropriate site," he said.

At the time of going to Press yesterday (Wednesday), the district council had received a planning application for the new mast.

Meanwhile, the Government is looking at the process of planning permission for mobile phone masts.

In a recent Parliamentary written reply, Communities and Local Government Minister Meg Munn said a review was currently being carried out.

"Following the completion of the review we will consider whether changes might be necessary to Government planning policy in relation to telecommunications," she said.

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