The fashion for being on call anytime, anyplace, anywhere, seems to have taken over the general populace

The fashion for being on call anytime, anyplace, anywhere, seems to have taken over the general populace of Kenilworth, writes Gemma Lynn.
Now most anybody's answerphone sports the message "or you can contact me on my mobile on?"

Amidst shoppers in the supermarket someone idling down the aisles is likely to be talking live to an absent partner, considering what to buy for supper. Even on the pavement: it seems as if every tenth person passing by has a phone clamped to their ear while engaging in cheerful banter with some distant friend.

However the image of the slick and essential, of the family-friendly Christmas gift for the kids, was hard to reconcile with the lurid health horrors that were graphically depicted by the tabloids. Associated with the radiation the phones and base stations emit, are apparently brain tumours and blood cancers, and even genetic damage to your DNA.

The cause of mobile phone users' complacency may be that they heard reassurances, encouraged by the cellphone industry, bandied about again and again that there is "no conclusive evidence" against them. The same thing was said about cigarettes.

However the siting of masts is a hot topic and in the last few years neighbourhoods in Kenilworth have welcomed phone masts with all the warmth they usually reserve for traffic wardens.

Now a planning application has been submitted for a phone mast on the pavement slap bang in the middle of one of the main shopping areas in Kenilworth.

Some mobile phone operators go to extraordinary lengths to conceal the masts that form their networks. They are being disguised as chimneys, clocks, windows, drainpipes, even as weathervanes all in an effort to meet the demands of planning departments. Before now some firms have used fake trees as masts, which resembled Scot pines. It is a tactic that might work on a hilltop when it is concealed among other trees but a fake tree on a street would be like putting lipstick on a gorilla.

So O2 have not bothered, content that the mast will blend in by looking like a streetlight.

But there is a reason for concealment. If such trouble was not taken our town would be dotted with even more architectural acne (we already have the De Montfort Hotel and Talisman Square) and that is a growing pain nobody wants to see.

People have until October 12 to send their comments on this application to Warwick District Council's planning department.

29 September 2006

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