MORE than 200 people braved heavy rainfall in Six Bells yesterday to protest against a proposed mobile phone mast, which will be located 70 metres from a nearby primary school.

Pupils at Bryngwyn Primary School, their parents and local residents, marched from the school on Bryngwyn Road to the site of the proposed mast on Cwm Farm Road.

The protesters holding handmade placards urged mobile phone company Vodafone to reconsider their plans to build the mast so close to the school and complained about a lack of consultation from the company.

The chairman of the “Six Bells Against the Mast” action group, Nigel Bard, whose eight-year-old daughter Caitlin attends Bryngwyn Primary said: “It seems that the bad weather has not put anyone off coming here today, but that is because this issue is such a concern to so many people in the area.

“We are all concerned about the safety of our children and no-one knows for certain the risks these phone masts pose to our health.”

Catherine Edwards who has two children at the school, Calum, ten, and Alannah, six, said: “I don’t want it here at all as I believe it will be a health risk.

“There are plenty of other places the mast could be placed, so I don’t know why it has to be so close to the school.”

Blaenau Gwent council granted permission for the ten-metre lattice mobile phone mast on September 15.

The council’s planning committee said they were unable to refuse planning permission on grounds of health concerns due to government planning guidance.

Phone companies say there is no proven threat to health from phone masts.

Steve Smith, Head of Planning at Blaenau Gwent Council, said: “We have been hearing from parents and teachers at Bryngwyn Primary School about their concerns over the health of local children and the lack of consultation from Vodafone Ltd.

“We are in the process of talking to the company and have asked them to consider siting the mast further away from the school.”

The “Six Bells Against the Mast” Action Group will hold a public meeting at the school on December 11 at 6.30pm to discuss their future protest plans.

'Firm has followed rules'

A spokeswoman for Vodafone said the radio base station at Cwm Farm Road, is required to improve the 3G coverage to their customers in the area and will provide them with access to mobile broadband with speeds similar to those offered by fixed line broadband suppliers.

She said: “We recognise that the local community is concerned regarding the deployment of this radio base station. All of our base stations are designed, built and operated in accordance with stringent international guidelines laid down by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP).

“It is our target to completely install this base station by the end of the financial year.”