10:30 - 30 May 2005
Mobile phone mast campaigners say they have been vindicated by an Australian ruling that masts should not be next to schools.
The Australian government has followed New Zealand , Italy , Sweden , Luxembourg and Salzburg in banning masts near schools, child care centres, hospitals and nurseries.
Bishop King Primary School in Kingsway, Lincoln, has a mast just metres away from its building, and the parents and teachers have been campaigning against it.
Headmaster David Tinsley said: "I think this just shows that other governments accept that there may be a risk with these masts, although sadly ours appears not to.
"The point is that nobody knows whether there is a risk or not.
"They may be perfectly safe, but on the other hand they may not, and if they are not then children are the most vulnerable to ill effects.
"We are baffled by this Government's attitude when its own reports have suggested that a precautionary approach should be adopted, and yet nothing is put into practice."
His frustration was echoed by parent Andrew Gill, who is a member of the phone mast committee.
"We would just like to see the Government and the council taking some responsibility for this," he said.
"At the moment all the council has to consider is how it looks, not whether it will affect the health of children.
"The Government's advice in the Stewart report is quite clear, yet nothing is done."
The mast is situated on top of the fire station in South Park, next door to Bishop King School.
It is even closer to the half-built new special school, which is scheduled to open next Easter.
"We don't want the next generation to be picking up the pieces if something does turn out to be wrong with these things," said Mr Gill, who lives in Kingsway.
Green MEP Caroline Jackson is pressuring the Government to follow Australia 's lead and ban mobile phone masts next to schools.
"Without it, the result has been fear and uncertainty as mobile phone masts have sprung up - often requiring no planning permission or even advance warning - on schools, hospitals and in densely populated areas," she said.
However, mobile phone operators insist there is no scientific basis for a ban on masts near schools.
A spokeswoman for the Mobile Operators' Association said: "Since 2000, Ofcom has undertaken more than 360 random audits of base stations near schools and hospitals.
"The measurements from these audits show that emissions levels from base stations are typically small fractions of the international health and safety exposure guidelines."
She said parents should be comforted by a National Radiological Protection Board report in January, which said measurements showed there was no scientific basis for establishing minimal distances between base stations and areas of public occupancy.
Write to Your View at the Lincolnshire Echo, Brayford Wharf East, Lincoln, LN5 7AT.
+ TAVERNE BLASTED - "A LITTLE KNOWLEDGE AND A LOT OF BOMBAST ARE DANGEROUS"
Real scientist Margaret Cook demolishes pseudo-scientist and GM lobbyist Lord Dick Taverne's new book, The March of Unreason: Science, Democracy and the New Fundamentalism, in a scathing and brilliant review in the Guardian, Cook takes Taverne to task for the hectoring and irksome dogma of his writing.
In spite of his stated commitment to evidence-based science, much of his discussion is rant rather than reason.
There are regrettably a number of howlers. He attributes our health and longevity to modern medicine, whereas it owes much more to public health measures, sanitation, clean water, housing, diet. [GM WATCH comment: Here's a statistic for Taverne: "The results of seven years of research reviewing thousands of studies conducted by the NIA (Nutrition Institute of America) now show that medical errors are the number one cause of death and injury in the United States."
He states, "Food has never been safer or more carefully tested," when we have just had the most troubling food scare involving contamination of many different food products by the dye Sudan 1. He demolishes in scathing terms the fears linking radiation from mobile phones and masts to brain damage. Yet only two months ago, top scientists warned that children under nine should not use mobile phones as their brains absorb more radiation than adults' and the dangers are unclear.
He draws a rigid line between mainstream and alternative medicine, reluctantly admitting that an extract of St John's Wort might help depression, then countering this with a discussion of dire side effects. In fact, in a recent issue the BMJ, hypericum extract from this plant has been shown to be at least as effective as paroxetine for depression and better tolerated. The timing of these reports has not been kind to him, but they underline the hectoring dogma of his writing, which becomes increasingly irksome.