St Mary’s Church Council has been approached by two mobile phone companies to install antennae in the church spire. This is quite a common request now that is made to churches, such that the Church of England now has a preferred company it works with to supervise these installations and to advise and guide parishes through the process. It is they who will undertake all the necessary work, and the expense associated with installation, paid for by Vodafone and O2.
The Church Council has approved in principle this installation, which now triggers a period of consultation, both locally with residents and church users, and with the wider heritage and other statutory bodies. Alongside Planning Consent, the Church’s own planning procedure, known as the Faculty, will also be required. This means there will be plenty of opportunity for people to register concerns, raise questions or make objections.
In making its decision, the Church Council took into account the advantages and risks associated with such an installation and took a unanimous view that the former outweigh the latter. Apart from the financial benefits to the parish over twenty years, which are significant, the environmental impact of having antennae high in the church spire, hidden away in the space above the clock, reduces local impact and potential diminishment of the local built environment. Concerns about microwave radiation, which were matters of media (if not scientific) concern some years ago, seem to have been overtaken by the near-universal use of personal microwave emitting devices. The amount of radiation emitted diminishes rapidly from the antennae, and its high location makes it far removed from any potential close proximity of people.
However, these matters are now for the general public, church members and interested bodies to comment upon. Anyone who wishes to raise a concern with the PCC should feel free to do so, addressing emails via the Parish Office, to the Secretary of the PCC ([email protected]). Formal consultation will begin once the Faculty process has begun, in the second week of October.