People power hoping to block phone mast

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Residents in Leyland are hoping a show of people power will block controversial plans for a giant mobile phone mast, just 150 yards from a school.

Phone giants Vodaphone and O2 have applied to build an 11-metre high pole on land off School Lane – a short distance away from St James’s C of E Primary School.

The move has sparked anger among parents who say they fear for the health of their children.

Dad-of-two Greg Tuite’s son Nathan, seven, goes to the school and has pledged to fight the plans.

He said: “There are innocent kids down here and this isn’t just scaremongering, it’s the health of my boys.

“The kids at this school are all under the age of 12. Why can’t they put it somewhere else?”

A phone mast built by telecommunications giant Orange already exists just a few feet from the site of the proposed spot, on a grass verge just off School Lane.

However, the new pole will be roughly the height of two houses, and will have an adjoining box, three times bigger than the current one.

Dad Greg, who lives with his family on St James’ Gardens, said: “No one in their right mind would want a mast overlooking their garden when they have two young children.

“Another thing to think about is the house values. Something like this devalues the whole area.

“You spend all this money on your property and then something like this comes along.”

His mother-in-law Margaret Hillier, who lives close by on Old School Close, said she was horrified by news of the plans.

She said: “What worries me is that my two little grandsons are going to be living under this mast and going to school under it. That frightens me.

“We moved here five years ago and my daughter and son-in-law moved here four years ago and this is just crushing all our dreams.

“We’re just fighting for the kids now.”

Kevin Chadwick, 73, from Long Moss, will overlook the mast if plans are approved.

He said: “Years ago when they put the other mast up I thought it was a street light. I didn’t know anything about it. Now they want to stick another one there.

“We certainly don’t want another one. It is much bigger and will be much more powerful. We need it stopped.”

Coun Michael Green, who represents the Moss Side ward, lives near the site and is also a governor at St James’s C of E Primary School.

He said: “We don’t know the strength of the signals from this mast or which direction they will go.

“Residents are rightly raising concerns about health issues. It is a difficult argument because the phone companies say they are complying with all the health regulations.

“This site is surrounded by houses on all sides and is in close proximity to a primary school.

“There is quite a public opposition to this. I am sure residents will be putting their best case forward and I will be supporting them.”

Vodaphone and 02 have submitted the plans to South Ribble Borough Council and chiefs and the planning department will make their final decision by the end of March.

A spokesperson for the phone giants said: “O2 and Vodafone recognise that the growth in mobile technology has led in some cases to public concern about the perceived health effects of mobile technology and its deployment, in particular about siting masts close to local communities. Quite naturally, the public seeks reassurance that they are not in any way harmful or dangerous.

“O2 and Vodafone take these public concerns seriously and are committed to providing the latest independent peer-reviewed research findings, information, advice and guidance from national and international agencies on radio frequency (RF) electromagnetic fields.”