20
Jul
2005

Protests could force rethink over hospital phone mast Aberystwyth

Today 20.07.05

HEALTH officials who faced furious criticism after telling a mobile phones company it could put a base-station on the roof of Bronglais Hospital this week came under renewed pressure to cancel the deal. Ceredigion and Mid Wales NHS Trust were targeted by angry residents and Ceredigion MP Mark Williams after it was revealed it gave the go-ahead to phones company 3 despite a new study warning that radiation from base-stations affects brain-waves and can seriously damage health. Hundreds of residents living close to the hospital were this week backed by Ceredigion AM Elin Jones, who demanded the trust immediately cancel its contract with 3 because of continuing uncertainty over the safety of base-stations. She said she had been contacted by many “worried” people living in the area who feared their health could be at risk if the plan went ahead. Trust chief executive Allison Williams has refused to reveal how much the trust - which is £1.1 million in the red - will earn from the phones deal, and has admitted that the trust board was not told of the agreement, despite known public concerns about the safety of mobiles technology. She has hinted that, if protests continue, officials will consider cancelling the contract with 3. St David’s Road residents said there was widespread public concern about the mast proposal and protested that they had not been consulted about the plan. A residents association this week told Ms Williams: “It is a cause for concern that we have not been consulted on this matter, especially as accountability and transparency should be expected of a publicly-funded body. “In our view it is particularly inappropriate that a hospital should be promoting technology with which there are health concerns. We would ask that you seriously reconsider this decision.” 3 has insisted there is no “general” risk to the health of people living or working near base-stations. But the company was involved in new controversy after planners admitted a temporary mast in a farmers co-op yard at Parcyllyn was unauthorised. Officials could face criticism after saying 3 would not be told to dismantle the mast because the firm had now made a planning application. Trefechan residents celebrated after Ceredigion planning councillors voted unanimously to refuse a bid for a 12-metre Orange mobile phones mast in the old Welsh Brewers yard following protests. But a mobiles mast in a lay-by at the Waunfawr junction at the top of Penglais Hill w a s approved. It will be the third in the immediate area and will be only 300 metres f r o m P e n g l a i s school.
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