23
Feb
2005

MAST FEARS

Residents up in arms over mobile phone company's proposals

A PROPOSED phone mast upgrade has sparked health fears for elderly and disabled people who live nearby.

Residents of High Craigends and Craigends Court, Kilsyth, including local community councillor Hugh Dempsey, are up in arms after T-Mobile (UK) Limited announced it was planning to upgrade its mast just next to the Celtic Supporters Club.

Mr Dempsey raised the matter at this week's Kilsyth Community Council meeting: "I'm very concerned for the people who live right next to this, most of whom are elderly and have health considerations, and I'm concerned about whether they are going to have any say in the matter," he told the meeting. Members agreed to oppose the move.

Chairman Margot Macmillan said: "There's been a lot of research done but no-one has come out with an absolute answer. The effects are unknown. I'm concerned about this - I think almost everyone is concerned."

Local residents have also told the Chronicle of their worries. Catriona Kilmurray, whose disabled son lives near to the mast, said: "Some of the houses are just two or three metres from the mast – you can practically reach out and touch it. Also, some of this housing is amenity housing – which means it is specially designated for elderly people or those with health needs, so many of these people are already vulnerable which makes the whole thing even more worrying."

The local campaign against the upgrade of the 12.5 metre high mast, has come in the same week that a world renowned professor is visiting Scotland to highlight the issue.

Professor Olle Johansson is calling on the Scottish Executive to suspend the construction of all masts and launch an immediate investigation into the long-term health effects.

Professor Johansson, who is to brief MSPs this week, has said: "In areas where phone masts are commonplace, evidence of health defects, skin conditions, allergies, and caner clusters is extremely worrying."

T-Mobile say the proposed upgrade to the mast is needed to provide 'third generation communications' to the residential area of Kilsyth. A letter from the company to local residents explained: "Third generation has been identified as the future of communications and is being heralded as a major technological breakthrough. This promises a range of high-quality mobile multimedia services with a reliable integration of voice, data and video images. Effectively you will be able to send and receive e-mails, view digital video clips and use a powerful personal organiser and a convenient electronic wallet."

In a statement on residents' health concerns T-Mobile told The Chronicle: "Based on over 40 years research T-Mobile is confident that its base stations, operating within strict international guidelines (recognised by the World Health Organisation) do not present a health risk to any member of the public." "T-Mobile recognises that one of the biggest challenges facing operators in developing a modern telecommuications infrastructure is minimising the impact it has one the environment. At T-Mobile we work hard to try to reduce the visual impact of our base stations and this is why we are upgrading an existing site rather than building a completely new installation."


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