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Mobile phone mast to go up near school
A mobile phone mast will be built next to an Oxford secondary school after an appeal inspector ruled out health concerns.
The council said “insufficient consideration” had been given to alternative sites away from schools or colleges.
Officers opposed the mast, at Heritage Gate by Sandy Lane West, because of “health concerns related to its poor siting”.
But telecoms firm Cornerstone has now won the case on appeal to the independent Planning Inspectorate.
The firm welcomed the news, but councillors said they were concerned health risks were not yet fully known.
Planning inspector Mike Fox said “perceived health risks” could be given weight, but the plan met international standards.
School buildings were “some distance” from the O2 and Vodafone mast, he said, adding: “There is nothing to indicate that the proposal would be a health risk.”
The firm ruled out 19 alternative sites but the council backed four, two at Littlemore roundabout, one at Sandy Lane West and another further along the bypass.
Yet Mr Fox backed Cornerstone’s argument that these were too big, too far away, already in use or posed a safety risk to the bypass.
He said: “I am satisfied that sufficient consideration has been given to alternative sites.”
The academy did not give views to the inspector and declined to comment when contacted by the Oxford Mail.
Littlemore Parish Council objected over its visual impact and “health considerations”.
Littlemore city councillor John Tanner said: “I’m very disappointed.
“It is a good idea to be careful and to have a precautionary principle that we don’t put masts close to schools.”
Fellow ward member Gill Sanders said: “There is still an awful lot to be learned about the effects of these masts.”
But parish councillor Dorian Hancock said: “The inspector would have the best interests of the community instead of commercial considerations, otherwise why employ an inspector?”
Cornerstone’s Ilana Clark said the mast was being shared by O2 and Vodafone to cut down on the number of city masts and boost 3G coverage.
She said: “We recognise that some communities are concerned regarding the deployment of radio base stations close to residential areas, but without radio base stations, mobile phones will not be able to work.
“All of our base stations are designed, built and operated in accordance with stringent international guidelines.”
She said the mast would be up by the end of the year.