Call to block phone mast rejected

Leighton United FC secretary Alan Pledge says the mast will net the club �30,000 over 10 years
Leighton United FC secretary Alan Pledge says the mast will net the club �30,000 over 10 years

A bid to stop a phone mast being erected at Leighton United’s football ground has been defeated , despite health concerns from residents.

At a meeting of Central Beds Council’s development control committee on Wednesday, councillors voted 6-1 in favour of EE’s plan, with six members abstaining.

EE can now go ahead with the 17.5-metre high mast adjacent to the treeline to the west side of the football ground in Stanbridge Road, Tilsworth.

The proposal was lodged to cover the loss of another station currently at Greenhill Farm, Tilsworth, as the site is set to be redeveloped.

Detractors have said the mast would expose children who regularly use the ground’s pitches to radiation.

Leighton United, who stand to receive £30,000 over 10 years from EE, have described the claims as “scaremongering.”

Veterinary surgeon Michael Ng spoke at the meeting to plead with councillors to reject the plan.

The racing horse breeder of Tilsworth Stud Farm, said: “The siting of the mast will expose my 30 fast growing horses, my family and residents to harmful radiation.”

He said there were more suitable sites available in Tilsworth for a mast, particularly Granary Farm.

Another resident who address the committee said she had two sons who were in poor health and was fearful of the impact a mast could have on them.

A spokesman for EE told councillors that without the mast there would be no mobile service for Stanbridge or Tilsworth. He said the mast was a low power installation which was well within the precautionary limit for European standards. He said a number of sites had been evaluated with the football ground the best location.

Councillor Nigel Young said: “The fear of the effect on health, that’s the crucial factor that should be given weight.

“There is clearly a perception from local parish councils and local residents that they have a fear of a health risk. I don’t like things that local residents are frightened of.”

A motion to oppose the plan on the fear of a health risk, lack of evidence that it was the best site in the village, and the need to potentially trim or cut down trees near the mast in the future was defeated.

Councillor Kevin Collins said: “I fear we are scrambling around for not planning reasons. I’m sympathetic, but it’s not our role to change national policy on the health guidelines.”