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Frustration over appeals process

Readers' letters | Published:

After I, my family and my neighbours have been fighting a long battle against having a mobile phone mast forced amongst our homes, I am writing to express how utterly frustrated I am with the lack of local democracy in the planning appeals process in Wales.

There continues to be a wide national debate over the possible health impacts of being exposed to levels of radiation 24 hours per day, seven days per week emanating from mobile phone masts; but no investigation has been able to give 100 per cent safety guarantee against any long term potential health risks.

Nevertheless, the Government has allowed the telecommunications industry to plough ahead with littering the whole country with masts to boost their shareholders’ and landowners’ profits.

A recent planning application for a new mobile phone mast and base station is to be built in the field adjacent to my home.

None of the local residents were consulted (or even informed) about this particular application by O2 Telefonica on land belonging to Tyn-y-Bryn Farm in Tregynon until after the application had been submitted.

Despite the full weight of O2 Telefonica breathing down our necks, we persuaded the local community council to express their concern and to shift their preference for O2 Telefonica to equipment share with an up-and-running mast well away from homes on the other side of the village.

By a majority of five to one, the letters sent to Powys Council planning department were opposed to the application, and the elected councillors on the planning committee voted by a clear majority to reject the application on the legitimate grounds of its highly intrusive visual impact to the neighbouring properties.

Sadly, the telecoms giant would not let something as trivial as local democracy get in their way and so went to appeal. Despite all the opposition of local people and the elected councillors, planning inspector Mr Declan Beggan overturned the decision from his desk in Cardiff and allowed the mast to go ahead. So much for local democracy!

We will be seeking advice on pursuing judicial review through the High Court to protect our families.

Despite our frustration with the appeals process, we nevertheless wish to express our gratitude to everyone who supported us and the councillors who upheld local democracy during our ongoing campaign.

Paul Leo Harris, Tregynon

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