Norwich meeting

Norwich (10 Dec) in a nutshell, from one who was there; not the only one, so correct me if I remember wrong or missed important angles.

Not such a big meeting as I'd hoped for, but then Norwich is a bit out of the way and it wasn't exactly widely publicised beyond campaign groups. But maybe 70 people there, including Eileen O'Connor, Mike Bell (chair RRT), Sylvia Wright from Mast Sanity, a campaigner from Brighton. Friends of the Earth had a rep., there was a Norwich CC planner and councillors. Panel was David Bourne, editor of Eastern Evening News (main campaigning paper) to chair, Councillor Mick Banham, Dr Ian Gibson (Norwich Lab MP) and Bill Stewart. Visitors were well appreciated, and it was good we were there with the wider view. BS gave a short presentation about HPA/NRPB role and saying he was keen to hear from people before completing Stewart Report II in January. He did go round the audience before the start asking people's views.

BS showed his reported annoyance at the industry saying the Stewart report showed there were no adverse health effects, during a period of exponential growth in phone use. His bottom line is that more is known now than in 1999 and that there is this apparent "allergy" to EMF, with certain people being susceptible to non-ionising radiation, probably belonging to a "genetic subgroup". So the precautionary effect must be reinforced while good clear science is done and published in an understandable way. He is also concerned about SAR info on phones, and its availability.

Ian Gibson, reporting "what's on" in Parliament, is hopeful that Keith Hill will be introducing meaningful planning changes, esp. with regard to consultation, but actually believes existing masts in places like near schools should come down. Planning permission, he said, should not be granted until public consent is given, and definitely never near schools. (The meeting said "make that residential, schools, hospitals etc.") Legislation, he says, will take much longer. (Mike Bell from RRT says he gathers 10 commitments etc. will be updated and PPG8 guidelines, in Spring 2005, but not the law.) He also suspects not all masts are necessary anyway, and his unanswered challenge is that operators should turn some masts off and see what happens.

Audience participation could've gone on all night as usual, but we only had until about 8.30. So we challenged "well-being" in terms of electrosensitivity causing actual ill health. Psychosomatic angles were pre-empted with the number of nosebleeds occurring in North Walsham and sleep deprivation. Eileen O'Connor gave the Wishaw story (her own of course) plus the John Walker RRT cancer cluster cases, and I gave the Worthing survey profile. Power levels, multiple masts and measuring were discussed and ICNIRP explained as being of no relevance to the effects observed. Planning refusal by LPAs was discussed, and how hard it is, loss of democracy etc. Landowners were challenged and the £££ incentive noted. Mike Bell called for transparency and openness of all details, including antenna directions, and any and every change made to them to require permission.

Editor DB pledged press support in mast campaigns, and in mast awareness.

Main usefulness: presenting depth of feeling, of understanding of the situation, and the certainty felt about EMF being the cause of so much, to Sir William.


After having to shoot off to Wales to play barmaid over the weekend, I have now had a chance to take stock of what happened at the Norwich meeting where Sir William Stewart was a speaker. I, like Andy Davidson, was disappointed at the numbers, but perhaps it worked in the favour of those wanting to speak. I was initially irritated at what seemed like a waste of precious time being told where the NRPB/HPA operate from and what is happening regarding AIDS, MRSA and all other subjects which come under their umbrella. We were there to discuss the problem with masts and mobile phones!! However, both Eileen O'Connor and myself managed to say our piece, although there's never enough time to say all you want to.

I told the panel that being a Parish Councillor in a village where there were in excess of 20 base stations within the parish caused great concern, especially as we had a growing serious health problem which includes some childhood cancers and blood disorders. I told him that we could completely blow out of the water the argument that these illnesses stem from fear and stress as the first of the masts went up 15 years ago and we were only made aware of the possible connection with the phone masts 2 years ago.

I told Sir William that I felt that our young people were being exploited by the phone companies and neglected by the NRPB as they were being allowed to use mobile phones without any warnings The Gov. leaflet produced after the Stewart Report were not widely distributed - and are still not! These leaflets recommend to parents that children under 16 use mobiles for emergency only and keep calls to a minimum and also point out that SAR rates on phones may help to choose a safer phone. No parent I have spoken to have seen this leaflet.

Sir William told me after the meeting, when challenged over the Government's refusal to act upon their recommendations, that he can only advise and cannot make them do anything! Our best course of action would be through our MP's. On hearing this I became extremely angry and told him that I thought MP's were being wooed by the phone companies and that if the recommendations in the Stewart report were not to be implemented it was another complete waste of taxpayers money and what had it all been for??

Eileen pointed out the urgent need for truly independent research and asked for funds to be made available without delay and said that there was a team of eminent european scientists available to start researching this huge problem.

One can only wait for Sir William's update next month and hope that some of the concerns and anxieties of Communities all over the UK can be addressed in a constructive way.

Sylvia Wright

I have also written to George Hooker and indeed met him. DOH is not skilled in non-ionising radiation, on which they defer to NRPB, and do not present themselves as concerned in any way.

If I may gather your account with others, I intend to get more of a dossier to Sir William Stewart. Whilst we recognise that he has no real influence on government, he could still kick up a stink. At the very least, NRPB needs a severe shake-up. Don't write any letters to him by the way, he won't receive what you send.

There is a huge problem: what we are actually saying is that everyone communicating by microwaves is dangerous. Imagine what it will take to stop the wireless industry. Only a profitable and self-financing global alternative technology will do this. Meanwhile, WHO discuss precaution as a cost-benefit analysis. Benefit: I can tell you I'm on the train. Cost: someone else dies prematurely.

So keep talking, keep protesting, keep helping; we're all with you.

Good luck


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Dezember 2004

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