Local News 2011

Squash Court Denies Vodaphone Mast

30.09.11: Permission for a Vodaphone mast in Gerrans on the squash courts has been denied by the squash court committee. Vodaphone (through a third party) had approached the Squash course back in 2010 to erect a mast on their building. Despite it getting approval from Gerrans Parish Council, a group of parents of children who attend Gerrans Primary School created a petition against the proposed mast being erected.

Richard Sharp told Roseland Online at the time “I am very concerned that the Squash Club is going to be cast in the role of villain. Nothing could be further from the truth.”

Because of the petition, the squash court committee – understandably worried that if the mast was erected the parents of children from Gerrans school would go through with their threat of pulling their children out of the school which would have devastating effects on the school’s future – decided to call a meeting between the parents and Vodaphone so that a solution could be found. However both the school and the Parish council both felt it wasn’t their place to hold such a meeting.

Roseland Online contacted Councillor Julian German thereafter who said he would be happy chair a meeting to help resolve the issue, however said, “It is my understanding that the Parish Council feel this is a matter for Gerrans School.”

Gerrans School Governor, Annabelle Sylvester told us, “Gerrans Primary School is only too aware of the current ‘mast’ situation and we have acted accordingly. We have facilitated the sharing of information between the Squash Club, Vodaphone and parents. Any individual parental concerns hereafter should be directed to the Squash Club, Vodaphone, Gerrans Parish Council and the County Council Planning Committee.”

To try and help find the truth about a mast’s safety, Roseland Online contacted Mike Wood, Associate Research Fellow of the Centre for Energy and the Environment at Exeter University who told us, “I think that there is a strong possibility that the parent’s response could be an overreaction. In general, mobile phone masts transmit at levels much lower than your average mobile phone (for example, if you have one in your pocket, or indeed in the same room as you, you are likely to be subject to much higher levels of high-frequency electromagnetic radiation from the phone than from the mast).”

When Roseland Online bought his attention to the various submissions added to our Facebook page with reports that ‘prove’ mast signals are in fact damaging to health, he added, “even if all the links in the reports were shown to be true (which certainly could be the case), not putting up the mast would be illogical unless mobile communications we completely removed from the school (i.e. DECT phones, mobile phones, WiFi units etc.). Are teachers/children really going to be banned from using these items on schools grounds?”

However, the Squash court secretary, Richard Sharp, told Roseland Online in an email yesterday that they were backing out of the deal with Vodaphone despite the fact they may well have already gone ahead and submitted planning permission.

Although an end to the problem has been reached for now, it now remains to be seen if Vodaphone can find another willing party in the area who is prepared to erect a mast, regardless of the concerns raised by those parents, which was suggested in their initial letter.

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