Plans for telecoms mast on St Saviour’s playing field rejected by Department for Education

Residents had campaigned for the mast plans to be revoked

Plans for a 20m telecoms mast to be installed on the corner of a school playing field in Westgate have been refused by the Department for Education.

The controversial plans drew opposition from the school – St Saviour’s C of E Juniors – parents, councillors and Westgate-on-Sea Cricket Club which uses the field.

Last year  the decision was challenged by residents who said it was not lawful because Thanet council wrongly stated the site is not in the Westgate Conservation Area. However, Thanet council said: “This decision is still valid and correct.”

Residents also wrote to the Secretary of State for Levelling Up to ask him to quash the permission.

Public consultation

In November Kent County Council opened public consultation over the land deal with EE Limited and Hutchison 3G Ltd to lease part of the playing field for the telecoms mast.

Work had already started to install a 20m monopole disguised as a Cypress tree but then was halted.

Kent County Council says although it also resisted the application, it had to weigh up the risk of the mast’s location being imposed because of telecoms legislation which give operators significant powers.

The authority says it therefore worked closely with the school, the cricket club, and the operator to redesign the scheme originally proposed to mitigate its impact.  The scheme also went through a process where consent is required for the disposal of playing field land, which was applied for in May last year.

The main reasons for refusal stated by the DfE were;

  • The school has less than the guideline amount of playing field land at 70% and there were no proposed improvements to sports provision to mitigate the loss of playing field land.
  • The School Playing Fields Advisory Panel (which provides independent advice to the minister on such applications) unanimously recommended refusal.
  • Neither the school nor the council supported the application.

The DfE also recognised the significant level of objections from the local community relating to the loss of playing field. Some 78 out of the 81 respondents (96%) to the KCC consultation objected to the disposal of school playing field land, with 88% of people in total raising concerns regarding health and safety.

The DfE noted that many objections were based on potential future health risks relating to 5G radiation. The DfE took advice from UK Health Security Agency which held the view that if the operator complied with ICNIRP guidelines (as required by the proposed lease) there should be no consequences to public health. This approach was adopted by officials and ministers and is not a reason for refusal.

‘Removal of works’

A spokesperson for KCC said: “The council was never in favour of siting the mast on the school playing field and we welcome the DfE’s decision.

“The operator has been informed and KCC will be requesting the removal of any works installed under a previous Interim Rights Agreement. This will be in accordance with a timetable to be agreed with the school and Westgate-on-Sea Cricket Club.”

In 2018 a similar application was made but due to Kent County Council planning policy at the time, including there being less than 25 years on lease of the cricket field site and due to the precautionary principle regarding safety of telephone masts near schools, KCC quashed the plans.

During lockdown the new application was submitted and the go-ahead given by Thanet council. There was limited response and residents say they were not aware of the plans or any consultation.

A member of the residents’ group which campaigned against the installation said the refusal was “great news.”


  1. What a relief for the school community and Westgate residents. It should never have been allowed to get this far and it has caused a great deal of unnecessary stress and worry. I’m sure many who have kept quiet will now come out and say they never supported it. Thank goodness for the people who have given their time to campaign against this and raise awareness.

  2. A sensible decision. Perhaps the farmer that owns the land at the top of Minster Road will either sell or lease part of the field where the proposed houses are planned for to EE Limited and Hutchison 3G Ltd. At least any new purchaser of these dwellings will know in advance that there is to be a 5G mast installed.

    • Goodness me we seem to have more than our fair share of NIMBYs in Thanet moan moan moan and such a load of hypocrites of the first order. All of these people who have protested about this communication mask. Use communication mast every day with their mobile phones also communication mask are needed by the emergency services the school would have been paid over £7000 per year to have had the mast in the corner of the field. What with these moaners and Jenny Dawes it’s of paramount of importance that in the local elections those of us who are fed up with these moaners use our votes to have a clear out. IF Labour and the Greens have their way WILL today Thanet will just become a jobless back water. VOTE CONSERVATIVE. I never thought in a million years I would be saying that but I’m ashamed to see and hear what Labour and Greens bandwagons they jump. If Jenny Dawes thinks she is right in her moans why is she not standing for election??? I guess it’s because she knows she would hardly get and votes.

        • I was one of them Andrew! I have donated several thousands so far, and will continue to do so because re-opening Manston will be the death knell for Ramsgate, and devalue thousands of properties in the CT11 postal area, and beyond! The 2 Thanet MP’s are traitors promoting this daft idea for their own ends! The mast may be a health issue, and should be properly investigated before being installed!

      • Having read the articles about local candidates, I don’t know why some of these are urging people to vote for them if they (the voters) want an airport at Manston. It’s not local councillors who will make the decision regarding the ex-airport’s future. Or is it?

      • This story has nothing to do with Jenny Dawes as it’s in Westgate not Ramsgate. Get your facts right before moaning about others. There is not even a comparison.

  3. I am thrilled that this decision the right decision has been made and glad that this paper took the time to write about such an important local story! Every parent or grandparent with a child at that school is heaving a sigh of relief today and no doubt the teachers too!

    • Good, and surprising, considering the number of local conspiracy theorists commenting here.

  4. Many informed people have provided very detailed submissions to reject this 5g mast, and the other proposed ones near the Royal Harbour Academy School, Ramsgate and Windmill Community Gardens Margate in Dane Valley. It’s nothing to do with being a nimby; it’s to do with being intelligent and informed and prizing your health. They included submissions from scientists, those in the medical/legal/medical/engineering fields etc and many concerned parents and local residents. This is also being mirrored across the UK by those who are awake to it all.

    • Yet more pseudoscience and quackery.
      We are continously bathed in radiation. From deep space, from the Sun. From radioactive rocks in the ground. From TV and radio transmitter masts dotted around the landscape. From the mobile phones we clamp to our ears all day long. Our microwave ovens.
      What difference does a 5g signal make to all the rest of it?

    • I’ve got an old colander and some aluminium foil if you want.
      And it helps if you wrap some copper wire round your big toe, connect the other end to a metal spike, and drive it 1 metre into the ground.
      I read it on the Internet so it must be true.

    • Oh Democrat, you do realise 5g is lower on the radiation spectrum than the Sun, correct? That your microwave in your kitchen puts out more ionising radiation?

  5. I think it’s more sensible to stay asleep than be fooled by the sort of people who write on conspiracy theory sites.

  6. We don’t want an airport and now we don’t want usable mobile phone coverage – Welcome to Planet Thanet – Who would wanna invest here with all these Beverly Hillbillies moaning & opposing everything – The school now misses out on the extra lease/rental £ that could have been used towards these kids educational needs, but no, those parents/grandparents have helped campaign against – How to shoot yourself in the foot, well done, “great news.”

    • Let’s be generous and say the school would have received £7000 per year, which I assume is what the cricket club would have also received (which may be the real reason for the moaning on here), this would equate to 0.38% of the school budget based on 2021-2022 figures (

      So, not a massive loss to the school, whereas the loss of land to the children would be immediate and noticeable. And I’m not even putting my tin foil hat on here to discuss the other matter that 88% of respondents saw as a genuine concern.

      Have the mast somewhere else. I live very close and have great phone reception when I need it, and that is without a 20m mast in a playing field. Go figure.

      NIMBY Nik

      • “I live very close and have great phone reception when I need it” So its the I’m alright Jack attitude for you then I take it? £7k a year is a lot of books – I expect you drive a BMW/Merc and have an iphone so £7k would be nothing to you. 88% of who? ill informed supporters of the ‘Stop the school phone mast brigade’? Technology has to move forward or there’s no point in it – maybe your happy with that.

        • We’re not talking about me and I am not being offered £7000 so I struggle to see your point. I doubt the school were being offered £7000 per year in reality anyway, but as I said, even if they were it would equate to 0.3% of what they gain in a grant per annum. They have all the books they need (over 20 thousand library books according to the headmaster himself). But what the DfE understand, as do I and many others, is that building a 20-metre mast on a playing field is NOT a sensible idea, hence the DfE (not the “Stop the school phone mast brigade”) unanimously refusing the application.

          “Technology has to move forward or there’s no point in it,” although I 100% disagree with you here, it is a moot point anyway as the technology already exists at the 20-metre mast by the fire station (120 metres from the school). And if the other operators (EE and Three) are so desperate to cash in with their own mast (rather than share) then they will need to find a place that doesn’t restrict kids from playing on THEIR playing field and unnecessarily expose them to yet more EMF radiation.

          FYI – I drive an 18-year-old non-BMW/Merc – sorry to disappoint. Guilty of the iPhone though albeit an old model – great signal now that I’ve switched from EE!

          • “unnecessarily expose them to yet more EMF radiation.”

            Hi Nik, frankly, you’re a bit dense here. 4/5g puts out less ionising radiation than the sun, or your satellite tv.

            You’re worried about nothing. Signed, a physics graduate.

    • There have been a lot of things over the last 3 years that I would find very hard to believe, but a person lying about the number of books in a school library really isn’t one of them!

      Here is a link to the list of books –

      And if you require fact-checking, ask Mr Bonell the headteacher (who kindly made the list available), his email address can be found at the St.Saviours CoE Junior School website.

      • It must be a bloody big library then. The books list looks as if it comprises the books held by the school as a whole, rather than the books in a room which is currently the school library.

  7. There appears to be some confusion on here, and I am not singling out @anon but he/she does appear to be particularly confused.

    4 and 5G telecom masts produce NON-ionising radiation, and unlike the Sun, they do not produce ionising radiation. It is therefore a given that the Sun will produce more ionising radiation than telecom masts.

    I hope that helps. But, if not, I did produce a book recently titled “Wireless Awareness: Understanding and Managing the Risks of Radiofrequency Radiation and Electromagnetic Fields in Our Lives” which was designed to help explain these types of things. You can purchase it relatively cheaply (price of a coffee or thereabouts) as an eBook ( or in paperback (

  8. Nik – you got what you wanted, stop trying to convince others you are right 🙂
    Everyone is frightened of things they don’t fully understand myself included.
    I have been working with RF most of my life & seen lots of books out there with the intention of frightening every reader, some of the spill is fact, I agree.
    The RF affect on our environment and health isn’t fully understood – We could start with TV/Radio BBC transmissions in VHF at ‘2KW’ from the 1950/60’s right up to MOD microwave links of today.

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