Health fears over Longridge phone mast plan

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COUNCILLORS have raised health fears over plans to site a mobile phone mast in a Longridge church tower.

They are worried that emissions from the transmitter could harm the health of worshippers at St Paul’s Church, local residents and children at the primary school opposite.

Members of Longridge Town Council were responding to a renewed application to install antennas for a mobile phone transmitter in St Paul’s tower.

Mobile phone giant Vodafone has re-submitted the plans, first applied for more than seven years ago. At that time, the proposals caused a storm of local protest and objections from town councillors, although they were eventually passed by Ribble Valley planners but never actually carried out.

Now that application has lapsed and Vodafone has put in a new application for three Dual Band antennas and an internally sited equipment cabinet in the tower.

Town councillors initially seemed minded to accept the renewed plans after Coun Jim Rogerson pointed out that this time round there were no local objections for the meeting to consider, and that technology had improved over seven years.

He felt the scheme could be advantageous for Longridge and good for the community, as it would improve the signal in the town and, unlike other local masts at the High School and on Crumpax, it would be hidden.

Coun Sarah Rainford, however, felt the council should maintain the objections raised in 2004 when it was concerned that emissions from the transmitter could affect people in the church, local residents and could cross to children in the primary school opposite.

“There are still health issues which have not been resolved either way,” said Coun Rainford.

After discussion, councillors resolved to recommend refusal of the application as they basically had no change of views since 2004, and felt that potential harm from the facility was still not understood.

Longridge vicar, the Rev David Anderson, said the Parochial Church Council would be discussing the proposal, the views of the community would be sought and benefits for both it and the church looked at.

He said: “Things have altered since the last application – everyone has mobile phones clasped to their ears, we have Wi-Fi in the school, it would help the signal in Longridge. But I am quite open on whether we have the facility in the tower or not.”

It was just over seven years ago in October 2004, that Vodafone put in plans for the antennas, sent out explanatory letters to all residents in the vicinity of St Paul’s, and the Church of England approved installer QS4 said people should have no fears as the plan’s health and safety aspects would be of the highest standard.

But local residents’ concerns about emissions were backed by international organisation, Mast Sanity, formed three years previously as a pressure group to monitor people’s anxiety about harmful emissions from transmitters.