O2 Begins Mobile Mast Erection Despite Planning Refusal

Residents appeal to phone company to ‘act honourably’ after council’s clerical error

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Residents of Grove Park, who objected to the erection of a mobile phone mast on Sutton Court Road, are appealing to O2 to ‘act honourably’ after Hounslow’s planning refusal was delivered 24 hours late.

Work to erect the mast, sited on a narrow strip of pavement next to Chiswick railway bridge, between two conservation areas and less than 200 yards from Grove Park Primary School, began before dawn on Monday 18th February.

Work carried out by sub contractors continued throughout the day even though the phone company had given assurances that it would stop until the situation was ‘resolved’.

Planning for this particular mast has been refused two occasions after much local opposition. However, now work has started despite the planning refusal, residents are angry and have written to O2 stating:

1) Planning
Planning application was refused by Hounslow Council. We understand that you are arguing that Hounslow made their decision too late, and that planning permission follows by default. However, Hounslow are disputing this. This issue should be resolved before installing the tower.

2) Code of conduct
I understand that there is a code of conduct under which you have agreed to communicate with relevant parties when installing telecommunications equipment. In this case, there appears to have been no communication at all with either Hounslow council or the residents prior to starting to install the equipment.

3) Guidelines
I understand that there are guidelines stipulating minimum distances between the transmitter and residences. In this case, the transmitter will be very close to several houses (on one side), several flats (on the other), and two footpaths. It seems very possible that the guidelines would be breached.

4) Ethical Behaviour
On your website you claim to have an interest in ethical behaviour, and you discuss corporate responsibility. However, your company's strategy of trying to install this tower when planning was refused, when the planning situation is still unclear, when the code of conduct has apparently been breached, and when the guidelines may also be breached, seems in no way ethical.

Although it was initially believed that O2 received the refusal letter 24 hours after the 56 day period had ended, the company is now claiming that they never received anything from Hounslow Council. The Council refutes this claiming the planning refusal letter dated 20th November 2007 was faxed to O2 within the 56 day period, a copy of which was also sent to local residents.

The mast was refused planning permission on the grounds that "the development would, by reason of its height, appearance and location, be visually intrusive and fail to preserve or enhance the appearance and character of Grove Park Conservation Area and Chiswick House Conservation Area and would adversely affect setting of these conservation areas."

A spokesperson for Hounslow Council said, "Due to an administrative error with the electronic registration system, notification of the Council’s objection to the proposed phone mast in Grove Park missed the required deadline by one day. We have corrected the system to ensure that this cannot occur again, and are in discussion with O2 regarding the installation of the phone mast."

Residents are appealing to O2 to "act honourably and not install this mast on the strength of what amounts to a simple clerical error" and, at the suggestion of campaigning organisation Mast Sanity, are seeking an independent health survey to gauge the effect, if any, of having a transmitter so close to their homes. “The transmitter beam from the mast will go directly through the upstairs of my home.” one resident told ChiswickW4.com “I want to know how what that could mean for my children.”

O2’s James Stephenson has assured residents that work will cease until a meeting to resolve the situation can be arranged. In the meantime, residents are keeping a close eye on the site.

If you would like any further information on this issue please email editor@chiswickW4.com and we will forward it to the relevant person.


February 19, 2008