An engineer who helped pioneer mobile phone masts is campaigning against one being erected near his local hospital on health grounds

The Mirror April 11th 2006.

An engineer who helped pioneer mobile phone masts is campaigning against one being erected near his local hospital - on health grounds. Alan Banks, 58, admits the masts are an eyesore and can affect people's DNA structure even though he helped design them. Mr Banks' designs were used by Nokia when the Finnish giant first built mobiloe phone base stations. But he is among objectors demanding that plans for new Vodafone 3G masts near Newcastle's Freeman Hospital are scrapped. Mr Banks, who lives near the hospital, said:"It's not just that they are an eyesore, the whole area is already peppered with radiation. "They could use the local park, which is a wide open space away from everyone. "Even though mobile phones are relatively low power, living around them will mean you're exposed to them all the time. "The 3G masts are much more powerful due to the amount of data they have to carry, thanks to picture messages and Internet access to your phone. "The data sent is much more complex these days."

Mr Banks designed the key component used by Nokia for its first mobile phone network. His design led to the component which converts the human voice into a form that can be sent from one phone to another without breaking up. He gave the company's network the ability to"chop up" information fed by the masts into individual conversations The engineer said:"At that time no one really knew how it might affect people's health. "People still don't know for sure what the impact is. But they're know to cause problems with DNA, it alters people's cells." Freeman Hospital estates manager Robin Smith voiced his concerns. He said:"They want the mast right in the middle of the pavement and we have tried to point out to them the problems this will create. "The jury is still out on the aspects of mobile phone masts. We do now allow mobile phones in the hospital as they can't be allowed within two metres of any medical equipment. "We manage to stop the building of masts on top of our sites, but we fail every time for the ones on our boundaries. "As long as there's any doubt over the safety of these masts our response is 'no.'", A spokeswoman for Vodafone said the company was meeting safety guidelines set by the government and that new masts are built as a last resort. Jane Frapwell, an adviser on electronic radiation, said:"Our policy is first to co-locate new aerials next to an existing mast or near an exisitng structure, such as a building."

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