Residents signal protest over phone mast scheme

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RESIDENTS in Millhouses are lining up against a proposed telecommunications mast on their doorstep, raising fears about the possible impact on children at four schools in the neighbourhood.

They are pressing the council to reject an application from Vodafone and O2 to share the equipment at the junction of Millhouses Lane and Button Hill.

Concerns are also being expressed about a risk to pedestrian safety at a busy junction – and the appearance of a 14.8-metre mast in what one objector describes as “one of the most beautiful of Sheffield’s residential suburbs”.

Councillors will follow government guidelines in assessing the scheme – guidelines that do not indicate any health implications from telecommunications equipment. But many Millhouses protesters are not convinced and point out there are four schools in the area – Dobcroft Infant and Junior, St Wilfrid’s and Mylnhurst.

One resident says: “While I appreciate that recent studies have shown that the links between cancer and other serious illnesses and the location of mobile phone base stations to be low, one has to query the validity of such research in terms of its breadth, sample size and, indeed, how the research itself was funded.

“Until there are results published from more conclusive longitudinal studies, then I firmly believe that siting such a mast in the proposed location is taking a risk. It potentially poses unknown health risks to the general public, particularly the younger generation, which I believe is short-sighted and unacceptable.”

About 60 objections have been lodged so far with the council.

Another issue is road safety. “The addition of the mast and associated cabinets would reduce visibility and increase the danger to road users and pedestrians,” says one critic.

Another resident added: “The whole area around this proposed site is – to my mind – one of the most beautiful of Sheffield’s residential suburbs which contains a large number of superb trees. I believe that a 14.8-metre mast would be utterly out of character with the area and would detract hugely from its natural beauty.”

Local councillor Sylvia Dunkley says the applicants should be asked to find a more suitable location, where the equipment would have less visual impact and there was no risk of compromising the safety of children and residents. In a letter to the council, local MP and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg underlines Coun Dunkley’s concerns.

Vodafone has teamed up with O2 to share base stations in line with government policy, which they say will significantly reduce the environmental impact.

The authority is under pressure to approve applications for new masts across the city to encompass the latest generation of mobile technology.