"That's enough now" - Heckmondwike residents voice opposition to phone mast extension

Jon Levett and the phone mast
Jon Levett and the phone mast

Opposition to the extension of a phone mast in Heckmonwike will be taken in to consideration, says Kirklees Council.

Proposals to turn the 15m high mast into a 25m high structure, as well as increasing the size of the platform it stands on, have been submitted to the council.

But residents and the business where the mast is situated say they do not want it there any more, and are dead against any plans to increase its size.

Julian Firth, from Firth's Garage, said: "They put an application in before asking us, the land owner, to extend the mast, and the size of the platform.

"We were aghast when we found out they could do that. We use the land where they want to extend, we have industrial units there that we can't put anywhere else.

"The platform is currently six metres by four metres but they want to extend it to eight metres by 12 metres.

"Those buildings are wired with mains electrics, there's electrical equipment in there and we're renovating an old vintage vehicle there at the moment.

"The business is also on contaminated ground, which is another issue.

"We just don't want it on our land anymore. We've been fighting it for the last three years to get rid of it.

"We have a chartered surveyor who is fighting it on our behalf.

"When the mast was originally cited there we were told it was a transmitter, but we were given very little information about it.

"But we park on that land, we work on that land, and it's used for access to residential dwelling that are home to elderly people who need 24 hour access for emergency vehicles.

"They're just going about it the wrong way.

"It just feels like they have been given carte blanche to go about it any way they want.

"Do we really need 5G? We already have a very good 4G signal here - how fast does it need to be?

"We want the mast gone, it's been there long enough."

Local resident Jon Levett said: "It's an eyesore. It's like living near a pylon. We live with it because we can't do anything about it.

"There are suggestions that phone masts shouldn't be near schools because there are big question marks over their safety.

"This one is within 100 metres of two schools, and in a very densely populated area.

"We should be erring on the side of caution, it shouldn't be there.

"It's quite a rural area, opposite nice fields. If I was to suggest building a 25m phone mast in my back garden the council would come down on me like a ton of bricks.

"I'm sure it could be cited somewhere else, like up at junction 27 where there are lots of industrial units and it wouldn't bother people.

"It's all being done in the name of 5G, which we all desperately need apparently. But I'm certainly perfectly happy with 4G.

"It's the wrong location for it. It looks a mess, there are question marks over the health implications, but the council, it would appear, are trying to push it through.

"There were 16 or 17 objections to the first planning application,which was withdrawn.

"Then a new one was put in about a week later which seems to be very similar to the last one, and because people aren't aware of it, its got fewer objections.

"And for some reason, some of the wording on some of the objections have been redacted, seemingly under the guise of GDPR, but it just seems another example of the council doing everything it can to play everything down."

Jon, who has lived on Leeds Road for 18 years, estimates that dozens of local people feel the same way.

He says the whole thing has left him feeling disillusioned with the council.

"It doesn't feel as though they are on our side," he said, "it feels as though they are on the side of the operator, and that they're doing as much as they can to allow it.

"It just leaves you feeling powerless. It just feels wrong.

"There is a lot of people in this area that don't want it..

"We are quite determined as a community to do what we can to prevent it.

"We're saying 'that's enough now'. This time it's 25 metres, but next time will it be 50 metres, or 100 metres?"

Coun Peter McBride, Cabinet Member for Regeneration, said: “The application had to be changed because it required a full planning application instead.

“This has been publicised and will be assessed, taking into account all relevant planning considerations and comments made by the public.

“The Planning Committee will also refer to comments received on the withdrawn application when making its decision."

An EE spokesperson said: “We know how important it is for people to be connected and we’re working to keep our customers connected 100 per cent of the time. This is why we’re upgrading our site in Heckmondwike to continue bringing the local community and businesses the UK’s best mobile network.

“We always follow all necessary steps and work closely with local planning authorities to make sure we keep communities, like Heckmondwike, connected.”