Vodafone and 3 ignore call to switch off

The Sunday Times
December 04, 2005

Jamie Deasy Vodafone, Ireland’s biggest mobile phone operator, and 3 Ireland, the newest entrant to the market, have refused a government request to switch off a telephone mast near two Dublin schools until a report into the health effects of electromagnetic radiation is completed.

Tom Parlon, the minister in charge of the Office of Public Works, announced in October that he had asked telecoms companies to switch off their transmitters at Ardee House in Rathmines pending the findings of an interdepartmental report. This followed pressure from local residents.

Ardee House is owned by the government and is home to the Central Statistics Office. It is located within yards of the St Mary’s and St Louis national and secondary schools in Rathmines. In spite of assurances from government ministers to locals, 3 Ireland and Vodafone have turned down the request saying they are operating within government guidelines.

3 Ireland said the company received a letter from the OPW suggesting that it would be helpful if it turned off the mast.

The company added: “Upon further reflection, we have responded to the OPW and believe it is not reasonable to switch off the installation at this time. The reason is that we are operating within all the international and Irish Government guidelines and we have a contract with the OPW.”

Omega read "Base Stations, operating within strict national and international Guidelines, do not present a Health Risk?" under: http://omega.twoday.net/stories/771911/

3 Ireland said it had made it clear to the OPW that it was aware of local anxiety and had made an offer that their “community relations” team could be made available to local people to “allay their fears”. To date, 3 Ireland said it had not received a reply from the OPW.

Commenting on the dispute, Vodafone said: “The OPW did write to us and we responded to them saying the site is in keeping with the planning laws and guidelines for base stations. We didn’t think it was a good idea to take it off the air.

“We are having ongoing discussions with the Department of the Environment and the OPW. If a review starts, we will have discussions with the relevant departments but any review of laws and guidelines would take quite a while.”

In a letter to Eoin Ryan an MEP for Dublin, dated October 25, Minister Parlon said: “OPW are also asking the operators of equipment installed on Ardee house, where this is a matter of concern to an adjacent school, to switch off their transmitters pending the committee’s report. The OPW is aware of a continued level of unease among the public over such installations being sited in the vicinity of schools for young children." A spokesman at the OPW said discussions were still ongoing. “We have a licence contract with them (the companies). They are abiding by guidelines and their licence agreements comply fully with all the health and safety and electromagnetic rules”.

The OPW placed a hold on the granting of further installation licences where masts had been planned near nurseries and schools. Campaigners claim that people living close to masts can experience ill-health, particularly headaches, nausea and muscle pains. There are now over 5,000 dedicated mobile phone sites in the republic and this may double in the next decade. The government earns up to €500,000 a year by allowing transmitters on public buildings.



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Dezember 2005

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