9
Jul
2004

Simmering masts row

Below is today's editorial from THE IRISH TIMES. The most recent posting on John and Rosie Ryan is archived at

http://www.buergerwelle.de/body_emf-omega-news_5-06-04.html.

By the way I incorrectly identified on that posting the form of elections we had in Ireland on Friday, June 11: it was a mid-term and not a general election.

For anyone who feels compelled to respond by letter to the Irish Times editorial, its online address is: lettersed@irish-times.ie

Best, Imelda, Cork.


THE IRISH TIMES

Friday, July 9, 2004

"Simmering masts row

About 80 per cent of Irish people now use mobile telephones and the percentage is rising. That change in social and economic behaviour has been reflected in the growing number of base stations providing coverage and in a reduced level of local opposition to new masts.

Telecommunication companies should be careful not to jeopardise that developing harmony by adopting a narrow, legalistic approach to the concerns of Individuals. Extensive consultation and sensitivity to local disquiet will, in the longer term, pay better dividends than blunt resolve.

A wave of public protests accompanied the creation of the infrastructure for the second generation of mobile telephones, about four years ago. A Joint Oireachtas Committee held hearings into the potential dangers posed by the new technology and concluded there was no
definite scientific evidence to show that the level of non-ionising radiation emitted by the masts was damaging to health. Handsets were identified as being potentially more dangerous. At the same time, a British study found that some individuals could be particularly sensitive to radiation.

The case of the Tipperary farmer who wishes to break a legally-binding contract and have a base station removed from his land has become a cause célèbre in recent days, with support coming from both the IFA and the ICMSA. The individual complained he and his family became unwell because of radiation from the mast, but the company has declined to remove it unless it is compensated for the work involved. The emissions have been monitored on a number of occasions by ComReg, the telecommunications regulator, and certified as being within established international guidelines.

It is a difficult situation. The farmer is clearly distressed and believes radiation from the mast is affecting his health and that of his family. At the same time, the company paid him to have the facility placed there and its emissions have been within the legal guidelines.

In certain public controversies, the best solution is to walk away. While the company has science and the law on its side, public sentiment should not be ignored. The third generation of mobile telephones is about to be rolled out, requiring three times the number of masts that exist at present.

The Government hopes to raise €100 million over 10 years through leasing space on public buildings for such masts. Farmers in isolated rural areas could gain significantly. And the economic infrastructure would benefit. For that to occur, bridges must be built with the community and mobile phone operators must display greater flexibility and sensitivity to individual needs.

© The Irish Times"
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