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Tuesday, 15 August, 2000, 15:26 GMT 16:26 UK
Victory for phone mast protesters
Mast near houses
Protestors in Linlithgow blocked contractors
A mobile phone firm has withdrawn controversial mast plans after a six-week blockade by irate neighbours.

People living near the proposed location in Linlithgow stopped contractors from starting work three times.

They were gearing up for a fourth confrontation this week when Orange announced it had shelved the plans for the site near Preston Road.

A spokesman for the company said it would seek an alternative site which was acceptable to local people.

Alternative site

He said: "We have taken on board the concerns of local residents and we will look around for a location which is a mutually acceptable solution for our customers and provides better coverage for the area.

"A lot of people made their concerns known to us and on this particular case we have decided to scout around for an alternative site."

The group of more than 20 residents had used their cars to stop contractors gaining access to start work on the proposed 11.5 metre mast.

Tam Dalyell
Tam Dalyell: "Huge questions" raised
Near neighbour Donald Spencer said the decision showed that people power did work.

"Orange decided they could just do this without any consultation with us whatsoever," he said.

"It wasn't democracy, so we stood up for something we believed in - and we've won. It's just tremendous."

Fellow resident Ian Fox added: "It says something that a giant, multi-national aggressive company is prepared to back down to a small group of residents when faced with the voice of reason."

Local MP Tam Dalyell said "huge questions" had been raised by Orange's decision.

"Why in heaven's name was it necessary in the first place to insist on erecting their wretched and possibly dangerous mast against the wishes of the property owners concerned?" he asked.

He said the Linlithgow protestors had been "highly competent, articulate and extremely organised people" - but people elsewhere had been "bullied" into accepting masts.

"This should be a test case and Orange should learn lessons from it," he said.

No permission required

Scottish National Party councillor Martyn Day, who started the mast campaign, said he was "delighted" for the residents.

Orange had been free to build the proposed 11.5 metre mast because planning permission is only required for masts above 15 metres.

In March a Scottish Parliament committee called for a major tightening of those planning controls so all applications, however small, would come under scrutiny.

After a five-month investigation MSPs on the transport and environment committee decided there was "reasonable doubt" about their safety and recommend that health should be a factor when planning decisions were taken.

MSPs stressed there was "no definitive scientific evidence" on the risks mobile phone masts pose to human health.

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See also:

29 Mar 00 | Scotland
Tough call for phone masts
11 Nov 99 | Scotland
Public plea for phone masts ban
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