March of the phone masts

by Neil Elkes, Evening Mail

Mar 7 2005

Birmingham could be flooded with almost 200 new phone masts by the end of the year according to figures revealed today.

The first 15 years of mobile phone use saw almost 500 mast sites established in Birmingham, but that number could swell by 40 per cent in 2005.

About 100 sites or localities have been earmarked by the five mobile phone companies for the third generation of mobile video, music and internet communications.

T-mobile and 3 have told the city council planning department they are looking for a further 91 unspecified locations.

The proposals for the roll-out of mobile phone communications in 2005 were sent to the planning department at the end of last year.

The Evening Mail can today reveal them under information gathered under the Freedom of Information Act.

Today, because the issue is such a contentious one in Birmingham, we list the streets being targeted.

Some earmarked sites may already have other companies' masts, others may be well on their way to going live, but in many cases residents will not be aware a mast is on the way.

The companies may also alter plans as market conditions and planning regulations permit and they will submit a further round of proposals next autumn.

Leading campaigner Eileen O'Connor, of Sutton Coldfield Residents Against Masts was shocked that so many are being planned despite a growing calls for caution from scientists.

She said: "The industry is out of control when they carry on without any regard for the public.

"It seems crazy. We only have a single BT landline, one set of water pipes and electricity supply lines so why do we need five mobile phone networks?

"There are already more than enough masts, now they are trying to squeeze even more in. It will be interesting to see if there is a corresponding increase in illnesses," she added.

Industry and Government investigations into the health fears have so far found no evidence of ill effects from masts. However some independent scientists claim there is a link between masts and a range of illnesses from sleep disorders to cancer.

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The phone companies have paid the Government a total of £22 billion for the licences to operate third generation phones - those with video, music and computer applications --and is now part way through a massive upgrading of the network.

Not included in these plans are upgrades to existing masts which could see power outputs massively increased.

The industry insists that the technology is not a danger to public health and that with more than 50 million UK mobile phone users it is reacting to immense consumer demand for their services.

Stuart Eke, of the Mobile Phone Operators Association, said that the roll out plans are an important part of the development of third generation services in a major market like Birmingham.

"By giving the information to the planning authority each year then any problems can be ironed out.

"Operators can also look for opportunities to share sites to reduce the total number of sites in the city."

A Vodafone spokesman said: "The roll-out schedule gives a good indication of what we have planned, but this may change according to market and planning conditions."

See tonight's Evening Mail for more mast stories and details of the proposed areas.

From Mast Network


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März 2005

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