Aerial warfare

A CHURCH could be the first in Comet country to have a phone mast installed on its roof if planning permission is granted. Holy Trinity Church in Stevenage has applied for a phone mast to be installed but nearby residents are concerned the church is will

A CHURCH could be the first in Comet country to have a phone mast installed on its roof if planning permission is granted.

Holy Trinity Church in Stevenage has applied for a phone mast to be installed but nearby residents are concerned the church is willing to put people's health at risk for financial benefit.

The church could receive £5,000 a year for having the mast located in a plastic belfry at the opposite end of the roof to the original one.

Peter Craig has collected 63 names on a petition against the application.


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Mr Craig, who lives close to the church, said: "Is it right that the church should benefit financially while putting the health of the local community at risk?

"The mast is a great concern as government research shows that doubts remain regarding the health effects of exposure to radiation from masts."

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The Rev Geoff Tickner said after careful consideration it was decided that putting up a phone mast was an appropriate use of the church.

He said the money would "enable the church to continue to serve the community".

A private company, QS4, was selected by the Church of England to deal with applications for phone masts on church buildings in 2002.

Mr Tickner said he has only received four replies to a public consultation, two for and two against.

He told The Comet: "Our best advice is that they [phone masts] are safe otherwise the Archbishops Council would not allow phone masts on church buildings."

He is not worried about living so close to the mast but admitted that there are technical details surrounding mobile phone masts which he does not understand.

John Horsley, church project manager at QS4, said: "Network planners have identified a shortfall in coverage in Old Town Stevenage and being a conservation area it is a challenge to provide coverage without any visual impact."

He said the mast would give out signal strengths which are much weaker than those of television and radio transmitters.

* To comment on the planning application (06/00075/FP) visit Stevenage Borough Council's website www.stevenage.gov.uk

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