Compensation for phone mast hell?

By Jolene Hill
This is Local London

RESIDENTS could demand compensation when a report into health problems linked to mobile phone masts is published.

Government body the Health Protection Agency (HPA) is to release research revealing a full list of symptoms, which includes headaches, extreme tiredness, dizziness, memory loss and depression, associated with electromagnetic fields found around masts.

The news comes as no surprise to members of pressure group Orpington Residents Against Masts.

Many of them live near the BT telephone exchange building in Chislehurst Road, Orpington.

Since masts on the building became operational in March, residents say they have experienced health problems associated with electrosensitivity.

Susan Green's son suffered insomnia and headaches. Radiation detectors revealed high levels above his bed.

When £500 metal panels which shield his room were placed in the attic and the bed was moved, the 10-year-old felt better immediately.

Mrs Green said: "We know from our health surveys and contacts with residents' groups across the borough and the country many families living near masts suffer debilitating symptoms.

"It's scandalous councils and the Government continue to allow the siting of these masts in residential areas and on schools."

"These are only the short-term effects, what about the long-term effects?"

She says this could open the floodgates for people applying for compensation, as was the case when smoking was found to have bad health effects.

Mrs Green also claims the Government will have to reconsider the placement of many masts.

Orpington councillor Chris Maines said: "It's interesting the Government is now supporting residents' fears but it's quite possibly too little, too late.

"There is the concern scientists have been aware of this for some time and the public has not been privy to that information."

Community liaison manager for O2 James Stevenson said: "O2 has great sympathy for anybody suffering from electrosensitivity and we have contributed a large sum of money so the tests and scientific research into our industry can be continued."

The HPA report is expected to be published next month.


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September 2005

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