by David Bartlett, Liverpool Daily Post Mar 9 2011

Plans for six mobile phone masts on the roof of a Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts building has divided Liverpool’s planning committee.

Vodafone and O2 were yesterday granted permission to place the antennae on a chimney on LIPA’s Hope Street building. But angry councillors hit out at government guidelines which state they are not allowed to use health concerns to turn down phone masts.

Last night, LIPA principal Mark Featherstone-Witty said the school was still not sure it would allow the devices to be installed.

He said: “We will now progress with some more research. Our fate does not land or fall on £10,000-a-year, if that’s what it is going to be.”

Liberal Democrat Cllr Pat Maloney said: “Although I am a user of mobile phones, that’s my choice. It’s the people that don’t have a choice that concerns me .”

He said he would like to have been presented with information on how much radiation the devices would emit.

Planning committee member Lord Storey added: “I have real concerns about people’s health. The same arguments were used about asbestos and smoking. I think in years to come we will look back on this period with regret. LIPA are interested in some ready cash, but what price people’s health. I am afraid as a matter of principle I am voting against this.

Labour’s Tony Conception said the committee had little choice in the matter. He added: “We have a dilemma really in regard to health, but we are being given clear advice by officers and government. This is far more preferable to some of the masts we have seen across the city.”

Eileen O’Connor, who runs The EM Radiation Research Trust, urged the committee to turn down the application. “There are cancer clusters around phone masts world -wide and no one has ever proved that these phone masts are safe. There was a time when you could get an X-ray in a shoe shop. Consider the people that live near the school.”

Planning manager Nigel Lee said Vodafone’s application meant the visual impact would be minimal. He said: “We have been repeatedly told by government that we can’t refuse them on technical grounds. I think this is a decent solution personally.”

The committee approved the plan application with six votes in favour, three against, and one abstention.

For more on this story read David Bartlett’s blog post – Hope Street: a microcosm of the tensions between heritage and development click here.

Original Article