Girl, 11, defeats phone giants

Monday April 18,2011
By Andy Russell

A SCHOOLGIRL has won a David and Goliath-style battle to protect her family from radiation from a mobile phone mast planned yards from her home.

Natalia Gumbrill, 11, was worried about the health implications from microwaves the mast would emit.

Mobile phone giants Vodafone and O2 wanted to erect the 50ft structure at the end of her road – within half a mile of four primary schools in Hazel Grove, Stockport, Manchester.

Natalia wrote to local councillors and her MP to raise concerns about possible long-term effects on sister Beth, 14, and seven-year-old brother Sam.

The feisty youngster warned officials, including local government minister Andrew Stunnell, that she would hold them “personally responsible” for any ill-effects caused to residents if the mast was given the green light.

Her campaign succeeded when the planning committee rejected the application on Friday after hearing there were 180 objections from residents.

Natalia said: “I’m so pleased the mast won’t be put here now. This is definitely the right decision.

“They were thinking of putting it so close to schools. It’s worrying that it could damage and affect people and be one of the causes of cancer. I was worried for my brother Sam. He’s only seven and his brain is not fully developed.”

In a letter to her local councillors, the heads of the four schools, and Lib Dem MP Mr Stunnell, Parliamentary Under secretary for Communities and Local Government, Natalia said: “If in the future it is proven that these masts do cause health issues, I will personally hold Stockport Council responsible for any proven health issues to any local resident in the affected area.

“I will draw your attention to the fact there are four schools within half a mile radius of the proposed telephone mast, and many houses.

“I am sure any sensible person would understand this is not a suitable location for a telephone mast.”

Natalia added yesterday: “The councillors represent our area and it’s their job really – so it would have been stupid not to write to them. I’m hoping it will be moved to an area further away in a field somewhere so it can’t hurt anyone.”

Steve Burns, Stockport Council’s planning chief, said: “The application for the telephone mast has been refused.

“This is due to the height, appearance and prominent siting of the mast, which would have a negative visual impact on the surrounding area.”

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