24
Jun
2005

TOWN COUNCIL DIVIDED BY PHONE MAST PLANS

This is Somerset

23 June 2005

Fears over potential health risks of mobile phone masts have split town councillors. Norton Radstock Town Council has been asked to consider an application for a radio base station with three antennae in First Avenue, Westfield. It has been recommended for rejection by the majority of the councillors on the grounds that the risks remain uncertain.

Cllr Chris Cray (Ind, Westfield) said: "Although there is no residential housing near, there are quite a few people who work on the estate who are very concerned regarding their welfare and health, because nothing has been proved.

"I have always been against them in principle because I think they do cause and can cause harm to anyone, which was proved when they said don't let children under eight use them. We have continually objected in this council chamber when they want to put them around here. This is in the middle of a huge estate, but there are people working there."

The application from Hutchinson 3G UK has also met with opposition because councillors believe there are already enough antennae to supply the companies.

However, some disputed Cllr Cray's fears as mere speculation.

Cllr Flyff McLaren (Lab, Redfield) said: "People have looked for risks and haven't found them. It is silly to say they should go where no-one else is: if you put them where no-one is, it is not going to be any good for the phones."

Cllr Rob Appleyard (Lab, Westfield ) pointed out that an industrial estate like Westfield was full of radio transmitting equipment, and lent itself to a site where a mast would not need to be within a building.

He said: "As residents, we can readily choose to put a satellite dish on the side of our house to receive satellite signals from broadcasts, which are more focused into a house than a telephone mast, which is very much higher and from which the signal is dissipated."

The most recent official report on mobile phones and health was published in January by the National Radiological Protection Board, updating an early report published in 200 by the UK Independent Expert Group on Mobile Phones and Health, chaired by Professor Sir William Stewart.

The main conclusion was that there is no hard evidence at present that the health of the public, in general, is being affected adversely by the use of mobile phone technologies.

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But uncertainties remain and a continued precautionary approach to their use is recommended until the situation is further clarified.

The report recommended that the planning process associated with erection of mobile phone base stations be subject to independent review, and that monitoring of potential exposures from 3G base stations be carried out with the rollout of the network.
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