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Last Updated:  Monday, 17 March, 2003, 14:58 GMT
Mast pulled down by vandals
Pulled down phone mast
The mast will cost about 30,000 to replace
A controversial mobile phone mast in Devon has been pulled down by vandals, causing damage put at 30,000.

The mast, at the Elmore football ground in Tiverton, had been the object of a campaign by local people concerned about health risks.

The 15 metre-high, three tonne mast was only put up last August.

Hutchison 3G, which owns the mast, has said a new unit should be up in a week and has offered a 5,000 reward for information about what happened.

Phone mast bolt
Several bolts fixing the mast to the ground were cut off
The vandals used special equipment to rip the mast off its base and pull it down.

Wire netting around the mast was cut neatly, and just enough of the 14 bolts holding the mast in place were cut off to allow the structure to be pulled down.

Gary Holley of Elmore Football Club said: "The base bolts have been cut off by a disc cutter.

"It has been pulled over by vehicle of some kind and there was a rope left around about three quarters of the way up."

Mid Devon District Council had initially refused permission for the operators to use it, but the government overruled that decision.


Councillor David Nation said: "It shows just how frightened people are by these masts. This is not just mindless vandalism, it is a criminal act which cannot be condoned.

"But the fact that people are driven to this indicates just how important it is that councils and the government should take note of what people are saying."

Hutchison 3G said bringing down the mast was a dangerous, irresponsible and criminal act.

A woman living near to the site, who did not want to be named, said the destruction of the mast had probably hampered the efforts of using legitimate protests against mobile phone masts.

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