Campaigners' welcome for phone masts pressure group

By Sam Beattie

Knaresborough Today

CAMPAIGNERS this week welcomed a new county-wide pressure group to stop mobile phone masts being put up near schools and houses.

The group, proposed by Harrogate Borough councillors, will be non-political and voice residents’ health concerns about mobile phone transmitters being sited in communities.

It will also work with other councils, sharing knowledge and campaigning for more local powers to reject mast applications on health grounds.

The move comes in light of growing medical concerns about the affect of radiation on people’s health, in particular children’s health, outlined by studies such as the Stewart Report.

Coun Andrew Jones (Con, High Harrogate) put forward the plans along with Coun Richard Cooper (Con, Low Harrogate).

Coun Jones said: “With recent cases we have seen masts built or beefed up near schools with scant regard given to public opinion and local planning processes either bypassed or not allowed to consider health issues because of Government rules.

“While most of us like using mobile phones we must strike a balance between this and the health concerns many have over the radiation emitted by masts.”

In 2001 the council introduced a rule banning the building of masts on council-owned buildings and last year campaigners tried to fight a mast being installed near three schools in High Harrogate.

Harrogate Council had refused planning permission for a mast on the Claro Road site but a High Court appeal eventually overturned the decision.

Paula Brooks, a member of the Campaign Against Masts put up near Schools (CAMPUS) – which objected to the Claro Road transmitter – said: “In my own view I would welcome any discussion about the benefits and detriments of putting phone masts in built-up areas.

“If they’re going to set up a group just to talk about it more and research it more then that’s wonderful. As a community we should be able to say “no”.”

Government policy is part-based on research conducted by scientists who are commissioned by mobile phone companies and the Government currently refuses to recognise health concerns as grounds for objection.

Now councillors are calling for local councils and residents to have a greater say on where companies can locate their transmitters by asking the Government to protect people’s health rather than corporations’ profits.

05 May 2006

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