Page last updated at 12:27 GMT, Thursday, 18 June 2009 13:27 UK

Protester erects fake phone mast

Sean Denman with his "fake phone mast"
Mr Denman refused 4,500 to put the mast on his property

A man has put up a fake phone mast in a bid to stop a real one being built next to his garage in Hampshire.

Sean Denman rejected £4,500 from Vodafone to erect a mast at his service station in Everton Road, Hordle.

The phone giant turned its attention to a pavement adjacent to the garage but was initially refused permission.

However, the plan was agreed on appeal but Mr Denman has blocked construction by welding a pole and a box to a car which overhangs the pavement.

Vodafone said it was still looking to start work at the site, by the end of March 2010, and would take advice on any obstruction at the site before work was due to start.

The firm said it would need a planning agreement if it wanted to move its mast to avoid Mr Denman's construction.

In a statement, Vodafone said: "The proposed radio base station... is required to improve the 3G coverage to our customers in the area.

"Fake phone mast" welded on to car
Mr Denman's "fake phone mast" is as tall as his garage canopy

"This location was chosen after consideration of 15 alternatives as it provides a backdrop of street furniture, against which the proposed timber telegraph pole will not be visually intrusive.

"We are currently finalising our build plans and it is our intention to develop this site this financial year."

Mr Denman said: "I had to get land surveyors to mark down where this construction would go.

"Not having complete right of way, I decided I can't put anything on the pavement so took a car, welded on a box and pole which overhangs by the correct amount covering where the mast and box would go.

"They [Vodafone] feel they can put their construction anywhere and make up any excuse.

"I am not against it, but not in this sort of place."

'Antennae needed'

New Forest District Council and the parish council had previously refused the planning application.

Chris Elliott, head of planning at the council, said: "The council is concerned that so many phone mast appeals like this are being allowed by planning inspectors because of the government's commitment to 3G technology."

The planning inspector had agreed the proposal, with a report stating: "The appellant [Vodafone] has demonstrated the need for the antennae to provide 3G coverage in the Hordle area."

The inspector added that "given government telecoms planning policy... the need for this facility is sufficient to outweigh the limited harm to the character and appearance of the area."



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