Sidlesham and Selsey, West Sussex
We are concerned about the health risks, the costs, and the capacity of TETRA to provide effective police communications.
The mast at Bakers Farm is up and running, February 2006. What Tetrawatch found most interesting is that the first ‘measurement’ of whether it was switched on was detecting the TETRA line in Bognor Regis, several miles away. This was confirmed several hours later, at Bakers Farm, by conventional instruments
May 2005: decision to allow the mast
The decision over the appeal was delayed for the general election, the reason being openly expressed as due to the decision being sensitive (ie might affect voting). Mast planning (dear Deputy Prime Minister) is not a political issue, but a social one. Now we know that the siting of TETRA at Bakers Farm, Sidlesham has political importance, and the residents can go hang.
On May 13 (yes, Friday) the appeal decision was finally delivered, and found in favour of O2 Airwave, saying that the health concerns of residents are without foundation.
We also hear from Chichester District Council that costs have been awarded in favour of O2 Airwave which means that, in the Inspectors view, our elected councillors behaved unreasonably in refusing the original application. We believe this is perverse, given that all the councillors did was come to a considered judgement in support of their public.
February update: Decision delayed
The Public Inquiry
Grahame Blackwells expert evidence/cross-examination, Ian Sharps expert evidence/cross-examination, evidence/cross-examination by two mothers on behalf of their families, David Barons evidence in chief. It came to light that one of the mothers (who lives in a mobile home at Bakers Farm some 53 metres from the proposed site) had received a Christmas card from the landowner which contained the message that she and her family should find somewhere else to live in the New Year.
David Barons cross-examination, statements by three third parties (all of whom accepted cross-examination), evidence/cross-examination of Airwaves planning consultant (Holmes).
Re-examination of Holmes, counsels closing submissions, Airwaves application for costs against Chichester DC.
Clearly, the Harrogate judgement in the Court of Appeal on 12th November made life very difficult. In the light of that perverse judgement, we argued that Sidlesham is an exceptional case. We further argued that Harrogate considered a mobile phone base station whilst the Sidlesham proposal is for a Tetra base station and, to that end, produced evidence to illustrate that 2G/3G and Tetra apply different technologies. We maintained that a great part of Grahame Blackwells scientific evidence had never before been presented to Tetra Inquiries and had thus never before been considered by Inspectors which is true. Trevor Blaney (for Airwave) attempted repeatedly to rubbish this claim but was clearly concerned as evidenced in his closing submission when he manufactured a reason for calling Grahame a liar and invited the Inspector to disregard all his (Grahames) evidence.
Blaney and his team are well-versed in how to handle Airwave Inquiries and deployed their usual tactics throughout making glib statements which really couldnt stand up to scrutiny; denigrating our evidence rather than producing their own (Collins evidence in chief comprised nothing more than criticism of Grahames, Ians and even Davids Proof of Evidence); constantly referring the Inspector back to comments in other Inspectors decision letters; and repeating ad infinitum that paragraph 98 of PPG 8 represents law and that, if it is ICNIRP compliant, a proposal cannot be refused on health grounds.
Blaney had a field day with the Chichester DC going on and on about the Council inviting a second application from Airwave and the advice of the case officer, Peter Filtness, in his briefing to committee. This second application did our cause a great disservice since the officers recommendation to permit was a good deal more robust than when the original application was considered in July last year.
Since the appellant has the benefit of the last word, Blaneys closing submission could not be challenged and it was here that he went to town with unsubstantiated claims and, it has to be said, lies. He quoted from our evidence statements that had not actually been made and, as already mentioned, attempted to have Grahames evidence thrown out. He claimed that all our evidence had been self-serving#146; and mere speculation and that the landowner had been made the victim of a most unpleasant campaign by local activists. It really was a disgrace from start to finish.
We are given to believe that we should have the decision letter during the week of 14th February 2005.
Regards to all and thank you for your invaluable support these past months.
Hearing part 1: September 2004
The Public Inquiry appeal into Chichester District Councils refusal of a Tetra base station in Sidlesham opened at the Councils offices on Thursday, 30th September. It was expected by the Planning Inspectorate to last for two days but ran out of time on the Friday and was adjourned until mid-December.
The proceedings began with Airwaves solicitor complaining about the proposed batting order (Chichester DC, the local residents group, Sidlesham Against Tetra (SAT), and finally Airwave) because he thought it important that Airwaves technical/scientific evidence should be given early on in his opinion everyone would then be convinced that Tetra poses no health risk and the proceedings could therefore be brought to an early close. The SAT barrister, Richard Honey, disagreed. After a short debate, the Inquiry Inspector announced a compromise Chichester DC (with no scientific evidence to offer) would go first; Airwaves Mr Collins would then present the companys scientific evidence; SAT would follow and, finally, Airwave would introduce its planning evidence.
The Councils case was completed by mid-afternoon and Mr Collins (BT Research Scientist) evidence by close of play on the Thursday. Fridays proceedings began with a third party statement by a member of the public and then moved on to the cross-examination of Mr Collins first by the Councils barrister for approx 45 mins and then by Richard Honey. He and SATs expert witnesses, Dr Grahame Blackwell and Ian Sharp, had prepared well and Mr Collins was subjected to three and a half hours of questioning, which extended until 4.00 pm.
The Inspector nominated 14th, 15th (and if necessary 16th) December for completion of the Inquiry.
Since the second application was refused by Chichester DC planning committee, the Inquiry is going ahead with funds being required by the group to meet the costs of preparatory legal work, legal representation and expert witnesses. There is still a need for funds and contributions would be much appreciated.
Cheques should be made out to Sidlesham Against Tetra and sent with name and address to: Vivienne Baron, Quinton, Church Farm Lane, Sidlesham PO20 7RE or Pam Sadler, Tonges Cottage, Cow Lane, Sidlesham, PO20 7NJ.
Sidlesham against Tetra wanted the Public Inquiry to go ahead because it is essential that people should hear for themselves about the dangers of this largely untested system. None of us wish that either the members of the police force, nor the public should act as guinea pigs. The police need an updated system this is simply NOT the right one for them nor for us!!
Policemen and women are becoming sick using this system (handsets) and people living in the vicinity of Tetra masts are also reporting sickness.
It was in early summer 2003 that a planning application was noticed in the local Chichester Observer newspaper for a telecommunications mast close by at Bakers Farm. Investigation revealed that the proposal was for a Tetra Airwave base station. Subsequent research on the Tetra system was alarming and local residents began to research this system, and spent long hours, often burning the midnight oil doing just that. A small group, Sidlesham Against Tetra was established to promote awareness of the potential risks of the system and organise a raft of opposition letters for submission to the Local Planning Authority, Chichester District Council. There were approximately 200 letters of objection.
Although the Sidlesham Parish Council had by this time indicated no objection, the ward District Councillor sympathised with the worried campaigners and ensured that the application would be considered by committee. The proposal was included on the agenda for the relevant planning committee meeting held on 6th July, with planning officers firmly recommending that the application be permitted. Five local residents took the floor in turn both to provide scientific evidence of health risks and to address individual concerns. After due consideration, the members recognised the obvious fears and went against their officers advice and voted to refuse the application solely on the grounds of the health concerns of local residents. We were delighted that the district councillors took seriously the views of local people.
Nothing further was heard until the turn of the year when, just before the then 6-month deadline, O2 Airwave submitted an appeal against the Councils decision. The company requested the appeal be conducted by an Informal Hearing and this was accepted by Chichester DC. Some three weeks later, the type of appeal was upgraded from Informal Hearing to Public Inquiry at the request of Airwave which allowed the Sidlesham residents to apply for, and be granted, Rule 6 status in order to present an independent case. Statements of Case were submitted by O2 Airwave, Chichester District Council, and Sidlesham Against Tetra at the prescribed time.
The Inquiry opened on Thursday, 30th September at Chichester District Council Offices and was to last for two days. Only there was too much evidence, so the case has been adjourned to December 14-17.
The Church Norton Connection
The owner of Bakers Farm, Sidlesham also owns nearby Greenlease Farm at Church Norton. In March this year, rumours started to emerge about another Tetra development on Greenlease Farm land and, the following month, Chichester District Council confirmed this. The Council also confirmed that no planning consent would be required since the proposal would conform with the Prior Notification procedure of Part 24 of the General Permitted Development Order (GPDO). Two masts were erected on the 7th May and the system was tested in early June. An extended exchange of correspondence between residents and the Chichester DC planning department has taken place with protestors arguing that the dimensions of the installation are well in excess of the GPDO provision. Unfortunately, the Head of Development and Building Control summarily dismissed every point at issue. Provisional advice from a London firm of lawyers specialising in planning law suggests strongly that the councils view is wrong and further action is now being taken.
TETRA at Bakers Farm, Sidlesham. Despite robust local protest, reviews and enquiries, nothing counts except that Airwave wanted it and that only compliance with ICNIRP can be taken into consideration.
The sad end of a long and strenuous battle, in which much detailed science was presented – and ignored. ODPM does not want its Planning Inspectorate to be concerned with such trivia.