Protest group formed to oppose mast plans

By Steve Peacock in Environment

Telecommunications giant Vodafone is being asked to find a new site for 57ft high new phone mast the company wants to put up within yards of homes, a GP surgery and the town’s community hospital.

Campaigners have already been knocking on the doors of homes nearest to the mast to spell out their health concerns.

A 70-year-old cancer survivor living just yards from the proposed mast site has covered her home in expensive special paint to try to block out radiation from the existing smaller phone mast in Babbage Road, Totnes.

She said: “This is a matter of life or death for me.”

Totnes district councillor John Birch said he was demanding that Vodafone’s planning application for the mast opposite the Royal Mail depot in Babbage Road is considered by the South Ham District Council’s development management committee – and not decided by officers under delegated powers.

He said he had also written to Vodafone asking for a meeting involving district councillors, protesters and town council to discuss the mast site.

He added: “I have also asked Vodafone to seriously consider moving the mast to another site away from what is a residential area.”

Vodafone has submitted a “prior approval” planning application to site the new mast in Babbage Road along with partners Telefonica to improve their 2G/3G and 4G coverage.

Town councillors have already voted to reject the mast proposals after pointing out that it would be within yards of the main GP surgery, the community hospital and the Atmos development site – and within a kilometres of the Grove School, King Edward VI Community College and hundreds of homes.

That recommendation to district council planners came as they were confronted with a seven-strong delegation from the newly formed Electro Magnetic Fields Aware Totnes, protesting at Vodafone’s plans.

One of those was 70-year-old Bernadette Checkley living in Borough Park Road and recovering from ovarian cancer.

She claimed there were already illnesses in Borough Park Road, which she put down to the existing masts in the town at Totnes Down Hill, Windmill Down and Babbage Road, and told how she feared for her cancer recovery if the new mast was added.

She and her husband Francis have now resorted to covering the outside and inside of their bedrooms with an expensive “phone radiation blocking” carbon paint to protect Mrs Checkley and her daughter and young child who will shortly be staying with them.

Campaign group spokesman Sue Webster said other home owners in the Totnes had already resorted to using the specialised paint because of their health concerns over phone masts.

Some have also bought expensive curtains and even netting to sleep under to try to protect themselves from the electromagnetic radiation.

She pointed out that the items were expensive for people and some just could not afford it.

She said in Sweden the government there recognised electromagnetic sensitivity as a medical condition and paid for the items.

She also said she had been talking to home owners living closest to the proposed new mast in Borough Park Road and Parklands to “ensure that they know about the mast and what they can do if they need to”.

She added: “People have also been touch with the mast company saying that we don’t need two masts next to each in an area of vulnerable people – particularly people with cancers.”

Anyone who wants to contact Electro Magnetic Fields Aware Totnes can call Margaret Woodward on 01803 868106.

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Alan Henness · 22 days ago · Report

For more information, please see: 'Making sense of radiation' by the charity Sense about Science:

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