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Beltinge neighbours of radio enthusiast Armando Martins fear 30ft could cause cancer

A radio enthusiast who erected a 30ft mast in his back garden without planning permission has dismissed claims it could give neighbours cancer.

Armando Martins, 73, has also had to fight off accusations the signal from the 10-metre aerial is interfering with people’s pacemakers and hearing aids.

But residents at the Thornhurst sheltered bungalow complex in Beltinge are continuing their battle to get the mast taken down, with Mr Martins recently forced to apply for retrospective planning permission.

Armando Martins of Churchill Avenue, Beltinge and his Ham radio equipment
Armando Martins of Churchill Avenue, Beltinge and his Ham radio equipment

Next-door neighbour Rose Clayson, 78, has lived at the complex for five years. She said: “Last year I developed cancer, and since then three others nearby have also have got it. It could just be a coincidence.

“It also affects my hearing aid because I hear a buzzing noise, and is doing something to my television signal. When we get any bad weather we get howling through our television aerial.”

Fellow resident Carol Barfoot said: “He has not got planning permission for it and whenever other residents want to put up something like a satellite television dish, we’re told we can’t.

“Four people in the complex have been diagnosed with cancer all virtually next door to each other.

“It doesn’t affect all pacemakers, but some people have told me it’s making them not work the way they are supposed to. One man told me he was fine until he moved here a year ago.”

Maureen Meaney, Ann Savage, Jean Judd, Eva Wimble, Rose Clayson and Carole Barfoot
Maureen Meaney, Ann Savage, Jean Judd, Eva Wimble, Rose Clayson and Carole Barfoot

But Mr Martins, who has operated a radio since 1962 and erected the mast in 2012, denied that it can cause health problems and interrupt hearing aids or pacemakers.

He said: “People don’t understand and ask ‘what is that big aerial for?’, but they don’t understand and don’t know what it’s about.

“I get all sorts of remarks made, saying it interrupts with television or pacemakers, but it broadcasts on a totally different frequency. How can a piece of metal interfere?”

He uses the £7,000 equipment to communicate with other operators across the globe and help in disaster zones if other communication systems have been knocked out.

He said: “It’s people who don’t know what it’s about and who are interfering and giving me grief all the time. It’s my hobby, but everywhere I go people complain. It makes my life hell.”

Carole Barfoot with the mast
Carole Barfoot with the mast

East Kent Housing Association runs the complex and says mediation between Mr Martins and his neighbours has broken down.

Its manager, Michelle Simmonds, added tests carried out by Ofcom have not revealed evidence of any interference from the mast.

Mr Martins is awaiting the results of his application for planning permission.

The details can be viewed online at www.canterbury.gov.uk/planning

Armando Martins's ham radio aerial outside his bungalow
Armando Martins's ham radio aerial outside his bungalow

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