Salisbury (England) Journal, August 2, 2007
MOBILE MAST PLAN SPARKS SAFETY ROW
[Rachel's introduction: Cell phone towers (masts) continue to stir debate over safety in England: "In the face of real health risks, we should adopt the precautionary principle and stop allowing masts on sites close to residential areas."]
By Journal Reporter
Mobile phone company, TMobile UK, has applied to put up a 13 metre- high mast in a residential part of Ringwood.
The mast, along with equipment cabinets, is planned for a site at the junction of Eastfield Lane and Gorley Road.
But those plans have upset some residents on Eastfield Lane, who claim heavy goods vehicles are already using the road as a "rat run" and a mast would pose "more danger" to motorists and walkers.
advertisementAnd Ringwood Town Council's planning committee is recommending refusal for the mast, claiming its location would have an "adverse" affect on traffic safety.
Eight residents attended the planning meeting, citing safety fears and some concern over radiation emissions.
One of them said he had lived opposite this site for 37 years, and vehemently opposed the plan on safety grounds.
"There have been at least ten cases where vehicles have left the road and come to rest exactly where it is proposed to install the pole and cabinets," he said.
"Any accidents will be much more serious once these structures are in place."
Ringwood town councillor, Christine Ford, referred to a specific instance where a friend had been involved in an accident through no fault of her own at, what she described as, this "inherently dangerous junction".
Ringwood's mayor, Brian Terry, told the Forest Journal he opposed the plan because "once one is approved we could see lots of them springing up."
Member of the European Parliament environment committee, Caroline Lucas, said: "Research for the European Parliament has showed safety guidelines governing the exposure of radiation to the public from mobile phone base stations is inadequate.
"In the face of real health risks, we should adopt the precautionary principle and stop allowing masts on sites close to residential areas."
New Forest District Council planning officer, Ian Rayner, told the Journal the plan was a prior notification application, but a decision was due before August 9.
"We have made no decision but we always consider people's comments," he added.
The first Government-funded research into potential dangers caused by exposure to signals from masts concluded they are "harmless".
But campaigners and individuals pointed to, what they said were, serious flaws in the research -- such as many of those who took part and reported symptoms being excluded from the £500,000 study, and participants only being exposed for short periods.
Professor Elaine Fox, a psychologist from the University of Essex who led the research, said the study concluded short-term exposure to mobile phone mast signals is not related to levels of well-being or physical symptoms in individuals.
She added: "Some people did drop out feeling ill, but I don't think that undermines the study."
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