CAMPAIGNERS came together in the Painswick Valley on Friday to protest against a proposed mobile phone mast that has been given the go-ahead to be built in the area.
The protest took place at 2pm on August 28 at the top of Pincott Lane next to Wick Street near Pitchcombe where the Vodafone mast will be put up.
A rejected base station and the mast was given the green light due to a planning error from Stroud District Council.
Plans for the mast were rejected in 2017 on the grounds that it was proposed in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Once rejected, the council had 56 days to inform Vodafone.
However, they were a day late on reaching the telecommunication company, so the mast was given the go-ahead to be built in the area by default.
All planning applications must be decided and notification sent to the applicant within 56 days otherwise the applicant can appeal to have a decision overturned.
A Stroud District Council spokesperson said: “Stroud District Council refused an application for prior approval exercising permitted development right and we determined it within 56 days. However the applicant claimed it should have received the decision within 56 days.
“We are sorry for this mistake, we have apologised to those who have complained, and as a direct result new measures are in place to ensure this does not happen again.”
Vodafone is now pressing ahead to erect the mast despite the resistance from residents.
Lichen Davenport, who attended the protest said: “The vast majority of residents and the landowner do not want it and have objected to it. They already have good coverage in the area, so it is not needed.
“This error is causing untold stress and anxiety amongst local residents who believed that this mast was rejected, but only to discover a few years later that it has indeed been approved by default.”
She added: “Masts are harmful to the environment and health as well as the unsightly look of them in a beautiful valley of outstanding beauty.”
In response, a Vodafone spokesperson said: “Our customers expect to be able to use their mobiles devices where they live, work and travel.
“We have proposed a new site near Painswick to improve the Vodafone mobile coverage in the local area. Along with Cornerstone, who manage our planning applications, we are now working with the land owner to optimise the location of this development.
“All our sites are compliant to stringent international guidelines. Below these guideline levels there is no evidence of adverse health effects to members of the public.”
Despite the heavy rain, community members including the farmer who owns the land and others gathered to protest against the erection of the mast.
Nathan Hutchings, who attended the protest, asked for the wider community to get behind the campaign.
He said: “Base stations have a transmission radius of 0.5 miles and we have signatures from local residents within this area stating that mobile phone coverage is adequate and that no further mobile coverage is required in the area.
“On this grounds alone the mast should not be installed as it fails to meet the very essence of the governments strategic plan for enhanced mobile phone coverage as set out in the Electronic Code.
“We have not given up the fight and will continue to push for a full independent investigation into the planning fiasco at Stroud District Council and to seek to engage with Vodaphone in order prevent the unnecessary destruction of a truly unique natural environment.”
To join the campaign and sign a petition, visit bit.ly/3lBY6or