in Shaftesbury

New phone mast in Stormont Road


Phone masts really should be bread and butter stuff for councillors. They are rarely popular and often provoke high emotions from residents.

Unfortunately I’ve painted myself in a corner; having consistently complained (if you follow me on Twitter it’s a regular topic) about the dire O2 coverage in SW11 over the past year or so, it’s hard for me to argue we don’t need more masts.

Equally, if I’m honest the rationalist in me finds it hard to argue against them. I’ve never seen a conclusive study linking them to health risks. And while I’ve seen unscientific studies suggesting a correlation (which is not a cause), I’ve seen just as many suggesting any correlation is psychosommatic and could be produced by just telling people there’s a live mast nearby.

Having said all that, would I want one on my house? There I think irrational emotion would win over rational knowledge.

So it’s with that dichotomy I end up posting for information the proposals for a new Vodafone and O2 mast on the Devas Club in Stormont Road. While it seems to me to be sufficiently far from residential properties to be of concern I recognise those living near to it might not agree.

The proposal is currently at pre-consultation and site notices should be going up so residents know where to send their comments before the operators make their formal application in a couple of weeks.

It’s worth noting that the council is very limited on what it can do about masts. Often it does not even need to be told about an installation, and when it is, can only refuse on planning grounds; in this case Devas is, in my opinion, a fairly ugly building and it’s hard to argue an aerial will detract from the visual amenity. One thing the council cannot consider are health fears.

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  1. As someone who lives in sight of the proposed location I’m inclined to give it a cautious welcome. The reception here is abominable, more worthy of the Highlands & Islands than Zone 2! These things are never popular, and – maybe because they’re almost by definition put up on tallish institutional buildings where they visually blend in among all the other paraphernalia on the rooftop – the objections are usually centred on perceived health fears (which as you note is not in scope for the planning process) – and the feared knock-on effect on house prices, etc. That said, a single antenna of the sort in the diagram is quite a low-power affair; as far as I am aware these are designed to fill in fairly local gaps in coverage. Comparing this with the dozen-or-so masts on the roof of Sainsbury’s at Latchmere Road, or the veritable forest of them on the roof of the Lavender Hill post office (where there must be at least five for each network), I’d imagine this’ll be relatively uncontroversial.