RESIDENTS in Bradford on Avon protesting against plans for a 15-metre high mobile phone mast handed a 1,385 petition to Wiltshire Council yesterday (Aug 24).

The move follows a formal objection by local councillors to plans by developer Galliford Try to build the phone mast on a prominent site overlooking the town’s conservation area.

The Leicestershire-based firm has re-submitted proposals for a phone mast and associated base station equipment on land at the BT telephone exchange at Priory Park, Bradford on Avon.

The pre-planning submission is a re-design of the original scheme published in January. Galliford Try’s clients, Vodafone and O2, say they need to improve their mobile phone signal coverage in the town.

Wiltshire Council is likely to make a decision on the application in September.

When plans were announced in July, furious local residents generated an online petition online to protest against the mast. A total of 293 have objected on the website and 57 have sent in objection letters.

In addition, 1,092 residents and visitors have signed a petition objecting to the scheme. They say there is risk from the electro-magnetic frequencies and non-ionised radiation likely to be emitted from the mast.

Local resident Caroline Brown said: “Like everyone else, we want better connectivity but we want it provided in a safe and unobtrusive way, not the cheapest way possible.

“These large companies must be forced to do what is best for communities and not simply think of their own profits.”

Ilana Clark, spokesperson for CTIL, which is handling Galliford Try’s application, said: “We submitted a proposal for a mobile phone base station at the BT Telephone Exchange.

“However, due to changes in the tree line local to the site and comments from local residents, we decided to withdraw the planning application, re-design the site to take account of the comments received and then submit a new planning application.

“We have now submitted this modified application and await the local planning authority’s decision.”

Protestors say the mast would present a health hazard to people living nearby and children at the Christchurch Primary School. They say the mast would impact negatively on the local conservation area and could act as a ‘Trojan horse’ for further development on the site.

Objecting to the application, councillors criticised the company for its failure to respond to their letter sent on July 21.

They said the proposed mast was too close to the town’s conservation area and would have a potential impact on protected species, particularly bats and birds such as swallows and swifts.

They said the company had not “adequately” assessed alternative sites and had not provided any explanation of why they could not upgrade the existing mast to provide better signal coverage.