ANGRY residents have hit out after ministers overturned a decision to reject plans for a new phone mast.
An application by Vodafone to build the 12.5 metre structure adjacent to Bryce Road in Currie was knocked back by city planners in March.
But the telecommunications giant appealed to the Scottish Government’s planning directorate and approval was granted earlier this month.
Residents today told the Evening News that the views of the local community had been ignored and expressed fears over health risks created by the mast’s proximity to homes.
Garry Fox, 56, who lives in Bryce Road, said: “If the community said no and they have overruled it then I would be extremely annoyed. For a government to step in and overrule it is wrong. It’s an example of the government overriding what we want to suit its own agenda. I want the Scottish Government to follow the community’s decision – to follow what we asked for.”
Jeffrey McLachlan, 80, a retired university professor who also lives in Bryce Road, said: “I’m concerned about the possibility of electrical things being present – particularly where there are children involved. Local decisions should be made locally, and respected. It’s unfortunate that a decision has been overruled by people who do not know local feeling about it.”
Brenda McGovern, of Currie Community Council, said: “Where they’re going to build the mast is not the right place for it. It’s well above the height of a house and right outside a bedroom window – which could conceivably have a baby or a child in it being exposed to waves from the mast.”
Scottish Conservative MSP Alex Johnstone, a long-time critic of the Scottish Government’s stance on overturning phone mast rulings, said: “This is just another example of a community thinking it has been well represented by the council in refusing this application, only for it to be overturned by the Scottish Government.
“Improving mobile phone coverage is important, but not at the expense of the wishes of a community. This is happening all over the country, and the ruling of a council should not be overturned by the SNP just to suit its own policies.”
But officials at Vodafone defended the plans. A spokesman said: “We are very pleased the planning reporter found that our proposal was acceptable. If we are to provide a service for people locally, we must locate our masts where people work, live and travel. This is increasingly important given the demand for smartphones.”
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “Scottish ministers appointed a reporter to consider an appeal against the decision of the City of Edinburgh Council to refuse planning permission for the installation of telecommunications mast on the footpath adjacent to Bryce Road/A70 (Junction) Currie.
“The reporter allowed the appeal after careful consideration of all the information submitted by the parties and an accompanied inspection of the site. The outcome of the appeal may be challenged at the Court of Session within six weeks of the date of the decision.”