Residents win fight to stop phone mast

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A GROUP of Mossend residents defeated communications giant Vodafone at a planning hearing last week.

Members of Woodlands Estate Residents’ Association (WERA) spoke out against the plan to install a 14.8m mast on the footpath adjacent to the junction of Calder Road and Brigbrae Avenue.

The application attracted 42 individual objections, along with three petitions of 161, 26 and 25 signatures from WERA, Brigbrae Residents’ Association and Milnwood and surrounding area residents respectively.

Back in March Vodafone’s bid to erect a 13.8m mast 60m north on Calder Road, which they would share with O2 was rejected.

The hearing heard that since then the company had approached Brigbrae Garage to site a mast within their grounds, but Brigbrae dismissed the approach and Vodafone returned to a new site on Calder Road.

Their agent Jenny Hulme, of Mono Consultants Ltd, said: “It’s not for the planning authority to determine need. This is a commercial application and it wouldn’t be made if there wasn’t a demand for it.”

However, WERA chairwoman Elizabeth Lawless criticised the ‘lack of clear information’ about health risks, while vice-chairman Ronnie Neely argued that according to Vodafone’s own website they had adequate coverage of the area.

Mrs Lawless said: “There has been no consultation given about our fears and anxieties about the potential risk to health from these masts and it seems clear that there should be another system in place for deciding on these applications rather than putting the onus on councillors.”

Mr Neely added: “I couldn’t believe it when I saw a new application had been put in, as it seems obvious that no other site had been considered and the company’s own website certainly doesn’t suggest there is any coverage shortage is our area.”

Following the evidence Coatbridge South councillor James Brooks said: “There is very little difference between this application and the previous one and as there has been no substantial difference in the evidence we have been represented I move for refusal.”

This was unanimously accepted by the planning and transportation committee.

Afterwards Mrs Lawless said: ”I’m over the moon, it just shows what can happen when the community pulls together and I am really proud of our team who I thought put up a fabulous argument.”

A spokeswoman for Vodafone said: “Once we have received the full written explanation about the decision then we will decide whether to appeal or not.”