RESIDENTS living near the site for a proposed new phone mast are fearful of the health risks involved and the blight it could have on the landscape.

Mobile phone company Telefónica O2 wants to put a radio base station on land surrounding St Georges House in Lyme Regis Industrial Estate.

The mast would be 20 metres high (66 feet) with associated equipment on the ground.

It would be located on a piece of derelict land owned by West Dorset District Council, which would also determine the mobile phone company’s planning application. A council spokeswoman said: “We would like to stress the issue of ownership has nothing to do with the determination of the application.”

In its application, O2 said the mast would address the problem of poor 3G service (the most advanced type of mobile network capabilities).

The application states: “The increased use of mobile phones and other devices means that O2 is continually looking to improve its network as well as to fulfil its licence agreements. There is currently a shortfall of 3G coverage in this area.”

Uplyme Road resident Alan Deane said he was dismayed to hear of the proposals. “Nobody wants the damn thing,” he said. “It certainly won’t improve the area. We have managed without an O2 aerial for this time so I don’t see why we need one now.

“Our main concern is possible health risks, not only to local residents and workers, but to hundreds of schoolchildren using the footpath which is only feet away from the proposed site, on their way to Woodroffe School, which is in close proximity.”

The Woodroffe School – less than 500 metres from the site – has been consulted but has requested more information and is yet to comment.

Haye Lane resident Bob Kingsley said no one should have their health put at risk by microwave radiation. “This technology has not yet been proved as safe,” he said. “I, and the majority of my neighbours, have deep-seated concerns and worries regarding mobile masts and their perceived detrimental effect on health grounds.”

But O2 has evidence that the proposed equipment would meet the public exposure guidelines, as set out in the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP).

The mobile phone company also intends to have two antennas – instead of the usual three – pointing towards the town and away from the school.

Haye Lane resident Chris Bartlett said: “Do parents want their children sat under a mast all day learning? I can’t believe the council would let this happen in a residential area and so close to the school.”

But O2 say they have considered around 15 other sites in the town, all of which are unsuitable. They include the rooftop of Tesco Express, Lyme Regis Telephone Exchange, and Travis Perkins.

The company said the chosen site would allow the mast to be well screened by trees. The application states: “Taking into consideration the presence of the many existing vertical street scene structures in the area as well as the superb localised screening at the site, it is felt this proposal will not be visually obtrusive.”

A Penny Plot resident, who did not wish to be named, said the ‘ugly installation’ would in fact make an unattractive picture for visitors. “The entrance to Lyme Regis from the Axminster road in my opinion has always been a disappointment,” she said.

“The aerial will only add to the eyesore. Lyme Regis is a holiday resort and at this point should be attractive to visitors.”

Homeowners fear it would also devalue their property. “If this proposal goes through, the two or three houses already up for sale on the main road at the moment will be very difficult to sell, especially in the present world financial situation,” said the Penny Plot resident.

“The high installation will be seen by residents in the Somers Road and Penny Plot areas because they are situated on a higher ground.”

Comments are welcome on the application by March 20, and can be lodged online at or by writing to the development services manager at West Dorset District Council, 58/60 High West Street, Dorchester, DT1 1UZ.