6
Aug
2005

MP joins fight to stop police masts

LEWIS HANNAM
Norwich Evening News

05 August 2005 12:02

Campaigners have called for Norfolk Police to axe its new multi-million pound mobile handset system because of health fears.

Norwich North MP Ian Gibson wants the new communications network, called Tetra, to be stopped until its effects on the brain are fully known.

Families in North Walsham, where the system has been installed on top of the police station, back Dr Gibson's move.

The private company behind the Tetra masts, mobile phone giant O2 Airwave, says health fears are unfounded and ambulances will also soon be using the system.

Dr Gibson said: "There is still widespread concern about the safety of Tetra masts, particularly the effects on the health of members of the police force and the public in the vicinity of masts.

"The issue needs to be fully considered and reviewed — there is a feeling that this system has been rushed through.

"The Government should fund independent research into areas where cancer clusters have arisen around masts, with the Office of National Statistics providing information on actual cases of cancer and motor neurone disease."

The primary safety concern related to Tetra masts is that they use a form of microwave radiation at a frequency similar to electrical activity in the brain.

Fears have been raised they have caused a range of health problems, from minor headaches to cancer.

A family in North Walsham has been spearheading a campaign to get the Tetra mast there taken down.

Matthew Pennington, founder member of the Campaign Against Tetra Siting, is planning to go to the High Court to get the mast at North Walsham police station taken down.

Mr Pennington, 42, who lives with his wife Rachel Kirk and three-year-old son Henry, is not confident about getting the police network stopped.

He said: "I fear we are on a hiding to nothing at the moment. My big concern is that no masts are being refused anywhere else in the country."

Last year families near the police station mast claimed it was making people feel sick.

About six police officers also fell ill voicing fears of a link between their illness with the mast.

Susan Moore, a spokeswoman for O2 Airwave, said: "Health and safety is at the heart of everything that we do because of the nature of the services.

"There has never been any concrete evidence to suggest there are any health risks related to the masts."

She said the firm had just won the contract to provide the same service as it does for the police to ambulance trusts, by 2008.

The Tetra network is a Home Office initiative costing about £3 billion, it started in 2001 and its rollout is now complete across the country, Norfolk's network was finalised in May.

It involves 3,370 base stations being set up nationwide; all of which must be fully operational by the end of 2005.

Police have praised the Tetra system for being clear and above criminal detection.

Have you suffered poor health because of a mast? Telephone Evening News reporter Lewis Hannam on (01603) 772428 or e-mail lewis.hannam@archant.co.uk

--------

Perhaps now is the time to lobby your local MP to add to the call in Norfolk? Remember, we don't have to have Airwave TETRA.

Tetrapol is available which is cheaper and needs less masts for coverage. Has anyone heard of any ill-health around Tetrapol? Perhaps we need to discuss this. Again, your MP is the route to ask for a change to Tetrapol.

Sandi
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