Pregnant Woman Wins Planning Ruling

   

Mobile Phone Mast Site: Pregnant Woman Wins Planning Ruling

   A mother-to-be won a High Court victory today in her battle against a mobile phone mast which she fears could harm her family's health.

   A judge ruled that Jodie Phillips, 27, who is expecting her first baby next January, was denied a fair opportunity to suggest an alternative site for the 12.5 metres high mast erected close to her home in Hambleton Road, Waterlooville, Hampshire.

   In a ruling which could give heart to other members of the public objecting to mobile masts, Mr Justice Richards said it was a "sensitive issue" and public concern about health issues should be taken into account if there was a choice of sites.

   Efforts had to be made to find "the best location".

  He overruled a planning inspector's decision to give approval to the mast, which is also near a nursery school, and said the matter should be reconsidered.

   Government planners had already conceded the case and agreed to a hearing.

   The case came to court because Hutchison 3G (UK) Ltd, who erected the "ultra slimline monopole" with equipment cabinet, decided to argue there was no procedural unfairness.

   In November 2002, Havant Borough Council refused planning permission because of the effect of the mast on "visual amenity and public perception of danger to health".

   Hutchison's appeal before the planning inspector was successful, and the company went ahead and erected the mast, even though the legality of the move was still under challenge.

   Outside court Jodie, who is particularly worried about the effect the mast's signal transmissions could have on her baby, welcomed the ruling and said she was "quite devastated" that the mast was now up and in operation.

   Her husband Nick, 31, said: "Taking a case like this to court has been nerve-wracking for both of us but it feels so good to see justice done.

   "We thought the company was incredibly insensitive, especially when it erected the mast just after the Government had agreed it was illegal".

   Their solicitor Richard Buxton described mobile masts as "a real problem".

   He said residents hate them and they are hard to challenge.

   "This judgement gives some hopes to residents by making it clear that companies must look for the best places for their equipment - not just spots that are most convenient for them for being cheap or easy to get permission on."