6
Jun
2005

Phone mast laws ‘must change’

Wanstead and Woodford Guardian

By Charlie Stong

NEW Ilford North MP Lee Scott has called on the Government to give local councils more freedom in deciding the fate of mobile phone masts.

Mr Scott last week backed a House of Commons motion calling for health grounds to be taken into account when antennae are planned near homes, schools and hospitals.

At present there is still very little leeway for councils to refuse masts. Currently, they can only refuse applications if they are within conservation areas or motorists' sight lines and causing a safety risk.

A Dutch study in 2003 showed that people exposed to radio-frequency waves, similar to those given out by some Third Generation (3G) masts, suffered reactions which could lead to health problems.

And the Government has now commissioned a study to examine whether the number of masts can be reduced by firms sharing them.

However, a study produced last year by the Advisory Group on Non-ironising Radiation (AGNIR) concluded that exposure levels to mobile phone masts were unlikely to pose a health risk.

Mr Scott said it was important that the fate of individual cases was left with councillors at a local level. He said: "Currently mobile phone mast applications cannot be rejected on health grounds and I think that is wrong. I believe the burden of proof should be on the mobile phone companies to prove they are safe, not on the residents and local authorities to prove they are unsafe."

Mobile phone masts have proved a bone of contention in recent years in Wanstead and Woodford.

In January last year the Wanstead and Woodford Guardian reported how hundreds of residents had united in their fight against phone masts, a move that was sparked after a planned antenna in High Road, Woodford Green.

Then, in February this year, a campaign started against a 3G transmitter just 150 yards from Oakdale Infants and Junior School in Woodville Road, South Woodford.

Another campaign was launched last week over plans for a mast near Snaresbrook Primary School .

But the most alarming case is that of Carnarvon Road , Woodford Green.

In 2001 the Guardian reported that out of seven houses next to a mobile phone station in Carnarvon Road , five were home to cancer victims. Mr Scott added: "As it stands, local authorities have little control over the granting or refusing of masts and this has to change."

cstong@london.newsquest.co.uk

3:00pm Saturday 4th June 2005
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