The Wokingham Paper

Residents call for action over plan to install EE phone mast in Winnersh

Winnersh Arbor Lane phone mast
Residents, councilors and campaigners come together to protest against plans to build a phone mast at this spot in Arbor Lane, Winnersh Picture: Phil Creighton

RESIDENTS and politicians from both sides of the political spectrum came together on Saturday to send a united message to EE: move the planned phone mast.

As we reported last week, an application has been submitted to build a phone mast on green space at the junction of Arbor Lane and Bathhurst Road in Winnersh.

The 17.5m mast would have three antennas, two dishes and three ground-based cabinets and be sited between Chestnut trees.

Cllr Rachelle Shepherd-DuBey, Lib Dem councillor for Winnersh, felt that it was important to work together and suggested an alternative location for the mast.

“I think the residents need to be supported on this,” she told Wokingham.Today. “They’re very afraid of these mobile phone towers and they would like to not have it here.

“It’s also the damage to the trees. We’re afraid of damage to the tree roots, Network Rail has gotten rid of most of the trees (by the embankment that backs onto the proposed site).

“We’ve found an alternative site, at the back of the Forest School playing field. It would cause less problems for everybody – it’s an area that’s not next to houses, it’s not next to the school.

“It would be a much better site as far as this goes.

“There be a few lads who are playing on the field there occasionally, but not on a regular basis and not directly under the mast; it wouldn’t be next to the school where the children are actually on a regular basis.”

And Bernadette Mitra, who is the prospective candidate for the Conservatives in Winnersh at the forthcoming May local elections, explained she had got involved after being contacted by residents.

“They wanted not to have the mast here, they felt uncomfortable,” she said. “They had been nurturing the trees for 40 years – that is a lifetime in my opinion.

“I just thought I’m not going to take no (from EE) for an answer, I’m going to work for the residents and fight for them, and see if there are any alternatives we can come up.

“We want to make it clear to EE that we don’t want the mast here. We’re not saying no, just different locations.

“We need to have a dialogue with EE and see what else we can explore.”

The protest, she said, was to make the residents’ voices known. She was pleased with the turnout.

“It’s a very good turnout, we’re going to get our message across and we’re going to fight this tooth and nail.”

Resident Kirsty Ross who lives in Arbor Lane said that the plans made her “furious”.

“I have three young children, they play in the back garden,” she explained. “The mast will be overlooking them. I have the worry in the back of my mind of health issues are they are growing up. I don’t think that’s fair.

“This is the home we chose 13 years ago to bring up a family and no mast was here. I don’t ever want it to be here. It’s not the right place for it.”

She added that she had asked EE to come out meet the residents: “Why hasn’t he even thought about coming to us?” she asked.

Wendy Lane, who also lives in Arbor Lane, has been a resident for 37 years and seen the trees grow from small saplings.

“I’m desperate for these trees not to be pulled down if that monstrosity goes up,” she said.

An EE spokesperson said that no trees would be taken down if the mast goes ahead.

They added: “We always seek to minimise visual impact when we’re looking to build new masts and strictly follow all planning procedures.

“We are continuing discussions with the local planning authority and have no plans to remove any trees in the area.”

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