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[Rachel's Introduction: "The main reason that we opposed this application is that no one is quite sure about the effects that mobile phone masts [towers] have on health."]
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By Luke Bishop
By Luke Bishop

Unpopular plans to build an expanded mobile phone mast [tower] in a residential area of Dorking have been withdrawn by the applicant.

Mobile phone company O2 had applied to build nine antennas and three dishes and to erect a fake plant room, which is used to cover up the unsightly equipment, on the roof of Haybarn House, in South Street.

The application had originally been refused by Mole Valley District Council because it said the phone mast would be visually intrusive to the area, but an appeal was lodged in July.

The plans were also opposed by residents of Vincent Road and Vincent Lane,roads which sit behind Haybarn House, because they were concerned about the potential health effects of having a mobile phone mast in a built-up area with two schools and a hospital nearby.

Although the Department of Health currently denies any long-term effects of mobile phone masts, there are examples such as the village of Wishaw, in Scotland, where residents successfully had a mobile phone mast removed after complaining of a variety of health problems, including nosebleeds, headaches and cancer.

Valerie Hollis,a resident of Vincent Road, said: "I think it was a very good decision by the company to withdraw this application.

"The main reason that we opposed this application is that no one is quite sure about the effects that mobile phone masts have on health."

And Bronwen Roscoe, also of Vincent Road, said: "I am delighted that 02 has withdrawn its application to site a mobile telephone mast on Haybarn House.

"Given the council's failure to apply the precautionary principle during the planning process,and 02's lamentable attempt at public consultation, I was not hopeful of a satisfactory out-come.

She added: "I am not opposed to the safe use of mobile phone technology so much as the complacency and inertia of the Government and operators in keeping us fully informed.

"I appreciate that, as a nation, we are wedded to our mobile phones,and masts are an integral part of that infrastructure, but there are other more appropriate locations than residential areas. Thankfully, on this occasion, and for whatever reason, sense has prevailed."

O2 says it decided to withdraw the application because of the strength of feeling against the mast from both the council and from residents.

Jim Stevenson, the community relations manager for O2, said: "We have decided to look again at the site where we were going to put the antenna.

"In light of everything coming into us from the council's planning officers and local residents, we decided to look again at the whole site and make some changes for the future.

"We do want to reapply to build a mast in Dorking but not at this site."

An application to turn the upper floor of Haybarn House into flats, which has also been bitterly opposed by residents,is still going through the appeal process.

Copyright 2008 East Surrey and Sussex News and Media

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