PLANS to install mobile-phone masts in the tower of St
Augustine's, Kilburn, are being opposed by more than 100
signatories of an online petition.
Local residents argue that the consultation carried out on
behalf of the installation company was inadequate, and they cite
concerns about potential health risks.
A petition for a faculty for the installation was submitted to
the Consistory Court on 13 September, after a resolution was passed
by the PCC on 1 August, the same day that the church displayed a
faculty notice both outside and on indoor noticeboards.
In April, a planning consultation company which works with the
Church of England, GVA, and the engineering and installation
company New Edge Telecommunications (NET), carried out a public
consultation. On Wednesday of last week, a spokesperson for
GVA said that "formal consultation" always took the form of a
letter sent by recorded delivery "providing a description of the
proposal and enclosing scheme drawings".
Sylvia Dibble, of the Randolph Gardens Residents Association,
said on Thursday of last week: "We have had no consultation
whatsoever. None of us have had letters."
Mrs Dibble is concerned about the potential health risks posed
by the installation: "My block of flats is 200 metres from the bell
tower.The distance from the bell tower is significant, as the area
mostly affected by the radiation is the first 400 metres. This
mobile phone station is being imposed on us. We feel we have been
kept in the dark about this."
Several of the signatories of an online petition opposing the
installation cite concerns about the potential health risks to
children at nearby schools. One mother wrote: "The Church should be
more responsible, and not seek to make money from such an
Bill Pratt, the head of Naima Jewish Preparatory School, which
is located a tenth of a mile from the church, said on Monday that
neither he nor his governors had received a letter from GVA. He had
only found out about the plans from a local resident "two or three
"I would expect consultation to at least mean dialogue between
all parties," he said.
On Thursday, the managing director of NET, Peter Morrell-Brown,
said that he had told Mr Pratt that the company was "always keen to
engage with any interested party to mitigate any concerns they may
have about a proposed telecoms installation", and said that there
were already three existing mobile sites closer to the school. With
regard to safety concerns, he said that there were radio sites
located on schools and hospitals.
Guidance produced by the London Diocesan Advisory Committee
states that there are "considerable financial advantages
potentially to be gained from introducing a telecoms installation
into suitable properties", but warns that "careful consideration
needs to be given to a range of questions".
These include practical, aesthetic, health, ethical, and moral
aspects. A PCC "must consider all of these factors, and come to a
decision on the right way forward for them, preferably in
consultation with the wider congregation".
The Vicar of St Augustine's, the Revd Colin Amos, confirmed on
Monday that a faculty notice was displayed on 1 August for "29 or
30 days", both outside and on indoor noticeboards. One response had
He said on Wednesday that the installation would generate
£13,000 every year, "which the PCC has agreed to earmark towards
repairs and restoration of our magnificent Grade I listed building,
parts of which are falling into disrepair due to lack of
The PCC had "carefully considered the perceived health-risks in
the context of all the latest available scientific evidence".
English Heritage had confirmed in writing that they had no
objection to the scheme.
"We remain one of the poorest parishes of London, and a walk
along any street will demonstrate the very high level of use of
mobile phones; land lines being impossible to obtain for housing
reasons or economically prohibitive," he said. "St
Augustine's will be thanked by the vast majority for enhancing this
aspect of their lives."