Ferrybank’s phone mast opponents remain ‘hopeful’

Thursday, March 02, 2006

By Jennifer Long

RESIDENTS of Ferrybank, who battled last year against the location of two mobile phone masts in their locality, say they’re hopeful that a Government review on the placing of masts near schools will spell an end to their problems.

Householders there say they’re still “very concerned” that permission currently exists for two masts in their locality very close to local schools and hundreds of homes.

However, the chairman of a local residents’ group said the community remains “hopeful” the review will recommend an all-out ban near schools....which would mean one of the mobile phone masts they’re fearful of would never materialise.

In November, the Office of Public Works ordered a countrywide freeze on the erection of mobile phone masts near schools until an inter-departmental committee examining the health effects of electro-magnetic radiation had finished its work.

On the site of Walsh’s Car Sales on Ferrybank’s Belmont Road, an O2 mobile phone mast is in place for the past three years but to the consternation of locals, permission was granted to retain it last April.

It was a double blow for the residents as just weeks earlier permission was also granted for the erection of a brand new mast on the same site after the Hutchinson 3G Ireland appealed a Kilkenny Co. Council refusal of permission.

“There is still huge concern in the locality regarding these masts but we did breathe a sigh of relief when the freeze was ordered on erecting masts near schools as it appeared someone was seriously looking at the situation,” said Paul Malone, Chairman of Ard Daire Residents’ Association.

“Thankfully at least the new mast hasn’t been able to proceed because of the order. People are still very worried about the possible health effects of these masts and we would hope that this committee will recommend they shouldn’t receive permission near schools at all in future.”

Several public meetings have been held in Ferrybank to discuss the issues and a specially-formed committee have vowed they will fight the placing of a new mast...even with a picket on the Walsh’s property if necessary. At a meeting with the site’s owner in June, the committee appealed for the project to be dropped due to health concerns in the community.

The owner, however, said he wanted an independent body to monitor emissions from the existing mast and provide proof of a health risk before making a decision.

Paul Malone said this week that such monitoring is ongoing but it needed to take place over a period of 18 months for definitive results.

Just weeks ago, one of the world’s leading experts in mobile phone technology warned that the radiation output from Irish phone masts was at least 100 times too high for safety.

Dr. David Aldridge, a scientist who worked with the US Government developing microwave technology, said the international ‘safety’ limits that Ireland adheres to were out of date and totally flawed.

His warning came as new research revealed the long-term use of mobile phones poses an increased risk of brain cancer.

© Waterford News & Star, 2006.



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