Residents on Peckham estate blast 18-metre phone tower that wafts ‘burnt oil fumes’ into homes

By Robert Firth, Local Democracy Reporter

Residents on an estate are fuming as a “temporary” 18-metre tall phone mast plonked outside their homes nine months ago is still there.

Mobile phone networks Three and EE put up the telecommunications tower next to a children’s playground on the Friary Estate in Peckham last October, with a letter sent to residents claiming it would be there short-term, while another mast nearby was replaced.

But nine months later the tower is still looming over their homes, with residents clueless as to how long it will remain there.

Eve Irez said she feels ‘trapped’ by the metal structure (Picture: Robert Firth)

Eve Irez, 76, said the appearance of the giant metal tower, just metres from the balcony of her second floor flat across the road on the Ledbury Estate, had left her feeling trapped.

She said: “I used to sit out in the sun but I can’t do that now. It’s not right. I will be writing to them [the mobile phone networks]. It’s like they don’t care about people.

“It’s like they thought ‘we can put it anywhere we like’ and dumped it there. It’s right next to where the kids play. It should be high up on top of a block, not on the ground like it is.”

Ms Irez added that a generator next to the mast keeps breaking down, which she claimed had caused fumes to waft into her home.

She said: “It smells of burnt oil. It’s a generator and it keeps breaking down. We’re not going to be putting up with those fumes. My neighbour is asthmatic and she had to cover her face with her T-shirt.”

Residents could face another nine months living next to the tower as planning law allows companies to keep temporary masts in place for a total of 18 months while a permanent structure is put in place.

Southwark council objected to the mobile phone networks’ plans to install the mast on the estate, but were defeated in court.

Speaking previously, Labour councillor Richard Livingstone said: “Frankly, I’m disgusted that the law of this land seems to put the rights of phone companies above the rights of council tenants to open space on their estates.”

A Three spokesman said: “It is critical that mobile connectivity is maintained for businesses and residents in Peckham.

“Previous equipment had to be removed because the landowner is redeveloping the site, but a temporary mast has been installed to serve the area while the search for a new, permanent site is under way.

“The intention of the temporary mast is to maintain connectivity while creating the least disruption in the area.”

Pictured top: The phone mast looms over the Friary Estate (Picture: Robert Firth)

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