7
Jul
2005

City scraps phone mast ban despite health fears

Jul 6 2005

by Paul Dale, Chief Reporter Birmingham Post

A temporary ban on siting mobile phone masts on land and property owned by Birmingham City Council is to be lifted.

Council members decided unanimously to scrap "without delay" a moratorium in return for imposing strict controls on the masts' operators.

It follows a scrutiny committee inquiry which concluded that, if the ban remained in place, the council would be powerless to prevent phone companies placing masts on roadsides and privately-owned sites.

Mick Wilkes, who chaired the committee, proposed "stringent" controls including independent audits of emissions to ensure radiation safety levels were not exceeded and regular safety checks.

Coun Wilkes (Lib Dem Hall Green) accepted there were great public fears about possible long term health risks but there was no independent medical evidence to back the concerns.

The decision, at last night's full council, came as it emerged companies were waiting to take advantage of Birmingham 's changed policy.

Coun Len Gregory (Con Billesley), cabinet member for transportation, said: "We have been approached in the past few days by operators who say that they want to use our real estate, our lamp columns, for mobile phone masts.

"We cannot stick our heads in the sand. If we continue with the moratorium the mobile phone operators can put masts up alongside the highway without reference to us." A number of councillors voiced concerns about health risks.

Coun Deirdre Alden (Con Edgbaston) warned: "If people who smoke for 40 years are prepared to sue tobacco companies when they get cancer, you can be sure there is someone who will sue the council when they are made ill by a mast next to their house."
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