What exactly is the 'Stewart' Report?
In May 2000, the Independent Expert Group on Mobile Phones, under the leadership of Professor Sir William Stewart, presented their government-sponsored report ("Mobile phones and health") to the nation. This study of the possible health effects of mobile phones, base stations and transmitters adopted an evidence-based approach. That is to say, it conducted an extensive review of the literature and then asked for evidence from experts, members of the public, representatives of government, interest groups and the industry.
What conclusions were reached by the report?
There were nine conclusions published in the report. They are:
1. The use of mobile phones will continue to increase.
2. Evidence to date does not suggest a general health risk.
3. Some scientific evidence shows that radio-frequency (RF) radiation may affect biological function. It is not possible to say, therefore that exposure to RF radiation, even at levels below national guidelines, is totally without potential adverse health effects.
4. A precautionary approach should be adopted until more detailed information becomes available.
5. Emissions from masts will be many times less than emissions from handsets.
6. Some people's well-being may be adversely affected by the environmental impact of mobile phone base stations (masts) sited next to houses, schools or other buildings, as well as by fear of perceived direct effects.
7. All bases stations, including those under 15 metres, should have permitted development rights revoked and the siting of all new base stations (masts) should be subject to the normal planning process.
8. The use of mobile phones while driving is dangerous.
9. The widespread use of mobile phones by children should be discouraged.
Can I read the Stewart Report for myself?
The Stewart report can be seen in full on the internet at www.iegmp.org.uk/ A printed version can also be purchased. Most local authority planning departments should have a copy of the Stewart Report. This briefing note is based on the internet version.
Why does the government use the Stewart Report to claim that masts are safe?
The government, quite frankly, have 'cherry picked' the Stewart Report to add their own 'spin' to the claims about the safety of the new mast network. The government and the mast companies always quote conclusions 1, 2, 5, 8 and 9 (usually only 2). They never quote conclusions 3, 4, 6 or 7. These are simple facts that can be read in the Stewart Report. Draw your own conclusions from this.
What was the follow-up to the findings of the Stewart report?
The government entered into a joint research programme, costing of £7.3 million, to investigate the long-term effects of pulsed signals on brain function, sub-cellular and cellular changes and the impact on children and other individuals who might be more susceptible to radio-frequency (RF) radiation. This programme is expected to last two to three years. The results will be made public.
Surely the government have recently strengthened planning controls?
The government announced in April 2001 that planning controls over new masts would be improved. But, the sting in the tail was a statement that 'concerns over health may not be considered as a legitimate planning issue when approving new phone mast sites'. This first appeared in a press release dated 16 March 2001 from the then Planning Minister Nick Raynsford. The new Planning Minister, Lord Falconer, is about to ratify this by publishing amendments to Planning Policy Guideline No 8. This 'health' statement contradicts conclusions 4, 6 and 7 from the Stewart Report. Why?
What kind of precautionary approach would make sense at this time?
Stewart is very clear on this. No masts near schools. No masts where the beam of greatest incidence (intensity) falls on a school. And, a logical extension of this, no masts near the homes of children or other vulnerable people. This period of precautionary measure should last until the findings of the government's own study into mast safety are published. This is an opportunity to be wise before the event.
Hasn't the government told local authorities they can't refuse new mast sites?.
No, the government has issued some guidelines. The local authority planners have to make their own minds up about the relative merits of every mast application - even from utilities like phone companies who have been granted Permitted Development Rights. Some local authorities have taken a very clear precautionary approach - protecting the interests of their citizens. Others have taken the easy way out - appearing to protect the interests of the phone companies. Which approach do you think is right?
How does the Stewart Report line up with Human Rights and other legislation?
It 'lines up' very well. The Human Rights Act (1998) and the Precautionary Principle (Maastricht Treaty 1993) are very strongly supported by Stewart's conclusions numbers 3, 4 and 6. It is very likely that, in the future, UK legislation will have to fall into line with European legislation, the UK is bound by treaty to this, and yet the UK government has not yet incorporated the Precautionary Principle into environmental planning policy or guidance. The Human Rights Act is of course already embodied in British law. Copyright Mike Barratt July 2001. This Briefing Note may be freely copied and disseminated without restriction.
Why are you against mobile phones - they can be very useful surely?
We are not against mobile phones. They are very useful and have saved lives in emergencies. We are against the unregulated growth of the new mast network for the third generation (3G) of wire-less communications because the new masts are not only closer together (especially in urban areas) but also operate at higher frequencies. We believe that the evidence strongly suggest the higher frequency services (like 3G and the new Tetra services) are more dangerous to humans, especially children.
Why are 20,000 new masts (at least) required by the mobile phone companies?
It is not to improve phone reception. It is because they have to introduce the 3G services as soon as possible. Nobody knows what the 3G networks will offer, and nobody knows if the market is ready for them. Indications are that consumer resistance to the new service is growing. And, most tellingly, the industry has gambled everything (£22.5 billion in the UK alone) on selling 3G to us all. If they can't get the new networks up and running soon, then the debt burden will overwhelm them. Read the newspapers - all the telecoms operators are in trouble.
What has the £22.5 billion licence fee got to do with health?
Everything. The government offered exceptional relief from planning restrictions as an encouragement to the telecoms companies to bid for new licences. A 'feeding frenzy' resulted as phone companies tried to jump on a bandwagon that promised rich returns. The problem with the relief from planning scrutiny is that local councils are under intense pressure to comply with government guidelines such as PPG8. (Note: these are only guidelines. They are not legislation.) Many local authorities have decided to exercise their 'duty of care' to local residents by opposing mast sites that attract objections on the grounds of health. Other local authorities have taken the easy option of favouring the phone companies, because they have been advised that they must avoid legal appeals by the mast companies.
Why do we want to make 'health' the issue?
Because many people have genuine and legitimate concerns about the adverse effects on their health from mobile phone masts close to schools, hospitals and homes. The Stewart Report concluded that health issues had not yet been resolved. We want the government to adopt, in full, the precautionary approach recommended by the Stewart Report (see separate Briefing Note). This is our chance to be wise before the event - unlike the experiences with Thalidomide, BSE, overhead power lines and so on. If the government accept all the findings of the Stewart Report then their guidelines to local authorities must not exclude health as a pertinent planning issue.
Who says there are health risks - the phone companies say there's no evidence? They would wouldn't they? In fact, there are hundreds of scientific papers from around the world that raise serious concerns about the biological effects of phone mast radiation (based on the frequency of the pulsed transmissions). The government and the phone companies only talk about the physical (thermal) effects in their literature - because they haven't got an answer yet on biological health concerns. Interestingly, the government is involved in a £7.3 million study of phone mast health concerns at this moment - and yet they have rushed through the revision of PPG8, before they've seen the results.
How many other groups are involved in phone mast protests?
Nobody knows for certain, but several hundred are active and there may be thousands in total across the country. One of the Winchester groups is directly in touch with nearly one hundred other groups including 26 who were represented on the recent lobby of Parliament. In Hampshire we know of 20 to 30 active groups and scores of inactive groups who can't 'get going' because they don't know where to start or because their local councillors have told them "it's no good protesting - our hands are tied."
But surely, this is a NIMBY issue and any replacement mast site would be good?
Absolutely not. Mast protest groups do not want 'their' problem to become someone else's problem. All mast protest groups want a sensible, rational and considered approach to the siting of new phone masts. The existing mobile phone network claims 99% coverage (Orange figures) without too much intrusion into urban space. The new networks, however, will require masts to be close to schools, homes, hospitals, workplaces and shopping centres. It is these new networks that have to be planned with a 'precautionary approach' as advised by Professor Sir William Stewart.
What will be achieved by the newly announced All Party working group of MPs?
The main thing that has already been achieved is the establishment of a parliamentary group that accepts there are genuine and legitimate concerns about health. This immediately gives the lie to the government's view that "There's nothing to worry about - we know best." Haven't we heard that somewhere before?
What could an All Party working group of councillors possibly achieve?
As a starting point they could inform themselves of the issues, look at the approaches taken by councillors in other authorities and seek to adopt a 'best practice' policy.
This would demonstrate to the people they represent that there is a 'duty of care' being exercised - one which cannot be over-ruled by mandate from the legal or planning officials in the council (the non-elected officials.) They could also provide an authoritative voice for the people of Winchester and Hampshire- who at the moment feel disenfranchised. Perhaps more fundamentally, they can address the groundswell of public opinion about phone mast safety by representing the interests of the people who voted for them. The perception at the moment is that Councillors 'do as they're advised'.
Copyright Mike Barratt July 2001. This Briefing Note may be freely copied and disseminated without restriction.
Who Are We and Why Are We Here
***** Council has given its blessing to **** to build a 15 metre (plus antennae) mobile phone mast on a residential street in our village. This approval was given regardless of over 250 written objections and a number of petitions from local residents.
The last government brought in legislation to allow the telecommunications companies to erect masts without going through the full planning procedure. All they have to do is put one A4 notice up near to the site. The Council can refuse these applications if they believe they have good reason. Councils all over the country are refusing applications for masts regardless of the government directives of not taking the health risks in to consideration. Other councils are finding reasons to refuse, however our Council are running scared and won't face up to the problem.
Beware - this means they will be happy to put one on YOUR street
We want to stop this proposal because no one is really sure what the associated health risks are. Overleaf are some facts taken from scientific papers and journals which make masts appear very dangerous. However our Government, with the support of the telecommunication companies, refuse to accept the vast amount of knowledge in this field. It is not that it is inconclusive just that government agencies have not bothered with this area of research yet.
A resident directly affected by the masts, with the campaign's support, has launched a legal challenge against the Council. If she wins, it will result in planning permission being withdrawn. However we would like **** to voluntarily drop this proposal. We are running a campaign to get as much publicity for the problem. We believe that the bad publicity that we are attracting for ***** will persuade them to withdraw. This should make the Council think twice before pushing these applications through on other peoples streets.
You may think that this does not concern you, but the telecommunication companies will erect between 30 and 60 thousand masts in the next few years. ***** Council have had many applications submitted recently - so next time it could be your street.
What Can You Do
Use your phone sensibly - turn it off whenever you can - use it only when really necessary. If there is a phone box nearby - use it. Don't feel guilty about supporting us, it's not hypocritical to want the masts sited sensibly and to expect telecommunication companies to provide their services in a safe and secure way. If the masts go from residential areas, the phones will still be there!
Write lots of letters to your MP, the Council, Operators, Tony Blair, Nick Raynsford (Dept of Transport, Environment and Regions), John Prescott, leaders of opposition parties, Cherie Blair!! Every letter helps. We need to make the powers "down south" see that we mean business and we want something done now. Let's make this an election issue - then they will do something.
Don't be fooled by the propaganda that government and telecommunication companies are pushing out. They do not have to put these masts near our kids - it's just quicker, cheaper, and makes an easier buck! If the Government stopped it they would very quickly find a better, safer (if a little more expensive) way. They need an incentive. We are their customers, let our voice be heard. Write to the telecommunication companies and don't be fobbed off by the patronising propaganda that they send to you.
Mobile phone technology is a new and developing industry. There has been no full and developed research program into the long-term effects - there hasn't been time. We cannot do without them now but we can treat the risks seriously and stop these masts going up where we know that there may be problems.
Let them know that we will not stand for another Thalidomide, another Asbestosis, or the next BSE
The emissions from these masts are not stopped by bricks and mortar. Closing your door and shutting your windows does not protect you!
Masts produce microwaves, we all know what these do, they defrost our bread, warm up our food, cook our dinners, we know they HEAT. The emissions from these masts are the same except much lower so they do not heat the body up quite so much, though it still has an effect on our bodies, but none considered to be a problem by many Government bodies. So as long as masts produce emissions below a set level they say its okay. However heating is not the only effect of microwaves. The non-heating effects that scientists have now proved change the cell and how it works are NOT regulated in this country so there is no measure, no control and no research - except on the population of Great Britain! Many eminent scientists argue that there is a link between cancer/leukaemia and the siting of these masts. Cancer involves the mutation and duplication of cells - cells change - its been proved that pulsing microwave emissions cause changes in living cells. We are all intelligent enough to come to our own conclusions!!
The radiation is known to affect systems in the brain influencing it in a way that can cause headaches and also memory problems, two of the most widely reported side effects. It also shortens the duration of REM sleep and the secretion of a substance called melatonin decreases. Both of these effects are consistent with reports of sleep disruption. It's also a fact that during the 'Cold War', the same emissions that come from masts were used (successfully!!) by the Soviets to induce serious adverse health effects in the staff and children of Western Embassies in Eastern Bloc countries!
Due to the diversity of people and the way each person's body reacts to external influences, not all people are affected and the severity of reactions will vary from person to person, according to the robustness of their immune system. This makes the occurrence of non-thermal effects more difficult to predict and therefore more difficult to regulate and control, this does not mean however that they should be ignored.
Children are particularly susceptible because they are still growing (so their cells are dividing at a faster rate) and their nervous system is still developing. On top of that their immune systems are also weaker than adults and their skulls are smaller and thinner causing them to absorb substantially more radiation than adults. The electrical brain wave activity does not settle into a stable pattern until the age of 12 so below this age their brain waves are more susceptible to interference from the microwave emissions - similar to radio interference.
Mobile phone masts do not give off the same emissions as TV/Radio transmission. Television and radio emissions from other telecommunication units have continuous waves, mobile phone emissions PULSE. The frequency at which they pulse closely resembles the frequency of the electrical pulses of the brain. It is believed that this is why there are increased reports of epilepsy, depression, headaches, migraines, etc. in communities and schools that have masts.
The telecommunication companies and the Government agencies CANNOT categorically say that occurrences of cancer and leukaemia, especially in children, are not directly associated with the siting of masts, maybe in the school grounds, maybe on top of a block of flats. These masts are everywhere and most people don't know they're there. You might be suffering from one of the known problems and not realise why.
ARE YOU UNSURE?
UNSURE = UNSAFE
Re : Application for a Mobile Phone Mast **********
Planning Id : *******
I am writing to object to the proposed erection of a new mobile phone mast on************
I believe that the sole notification of the sheltered housing on Park Mount was totally inappropriate. Those flats are filled with elderly people, many of which do not get out much in winter and would therefore not have seen the notice. Most of the residents do not know how to object to the proposal either.
As a parent with one child at ***** Primary and another at Brookside Pre School I am very concerned that neither school was notified at the earliest opportunity. I understand that the new PPG8 guidelines require schools to be given sufficient notification. Giving the school and therefore its parents less than a week to object is not "sufficient notification". (No notification at all for the Pre School). I accept that the objections date has been changed from the December 24th 2001 to January 11th 2002, however many parents were told the earlier date and therefore may have hurried their objection letters to get them in before the deadline. This means that many have not made all the points that they would normally have, nor brought up all the relevant issues.
If we look at Planning Policy Guidance Note 8:-
Pre-application discussions should also be carried out between operators and other organisations with an interest in the proposed development, such as English Nature, the Countryside Agency, English Heritage, the Highways Agency, local highway authorities, residential groups, parish councils or amenity bodies.
As a member of ***** Village Community Association I can confirm that no pre application discussions have taken place nor with Action Against Masts, which I am representing here. Whilst I accept that it is up to the Council's discretion who to notify and how, by only notifying those less likely to object and also by failing to notify the schools directly I can only assume that the Council were trying either to hide the application or to prevent effective and timely opposition to it - the Guidelines as laid out in PPG8 have certainly not been followed.
May I also quote PPG8 again:-
Where a mast is to be installed on or near a school or college it is important that operators discuss the proposed development with the relevant body of the school or college concerned before submitting an application for planning permission or prior approval to the local planning authority.
The operator has not discussed this issue with the Headteacher at ***** Primary or the Governors and therefore this application should surely be invalid. Legislation directs the Council to let the schools know and I would argue that the Planning department by not going directly to the Headteacher of ***** Primary is contravening this legislation. Therefore if the decision goes to erecting the mast that mast will be unlawful.
****** Council has taken the decision, along with many other councils, not to put masts on schools. I believe that they should also protect, to the best of their ability, schools and their pupils from any closeness to masts. Only last year the Head of ****** Education Committee Councillor Mark Hunter referred to the Council's "duty of care" to children and he said: "until it has been proven there is no danger to youngsters, children should not be exposed to the 'potential' dangers of masts." I would request that ****** take this statement seriously and support Councillor Hunter by refusing all applications in close proximity to schools.
The land, although owned by the Council, was bequeathed to the Council "for the benefit of local children". The erection of the mast will break the conditions of this Will. In fact, the mast currently standing on the site may already be contravening the conditions of this Will. There is currently a ban on erecting masts on ***** Council property and since the land is owned and controlled by Council, ****** Hill should be included.
The proposed mast will be within parkland in which there are many bats. It is well known that mobile phone mast emissions affect the sonar of these animals and therefore carry a very real threat to them. All species of bats are endangered and therefore are protected under British and International Law. Significant consideration must be given to this issue when making the planning decision. The new mast is significantly more powerful and larger than the original and will have an even greater impact on the local wildlife.
I fully accept that it is not the role of the planning officers or the councillors on the planning committees to consider the health risks, nor to consider the validity of health issues or their personal beliefs in those issues. However, it is their responsibility to consider the vast amounts of new research pointing to serious health implications affecting the lives of residents near to mobile phone masts. Loss of amenity is a very valid planning issue and it is clear that worrying about the implications to ones health from mobile phone masts, especially if the mast is clearly visible from ones home, is going to effect the person's quality of life - thus leading to a loss of amenity.
The current mast is visually intrusive and the proposed new mast will hold significantly more equipment. As a result of "tree pruning" it will be significantly more visible. Currently the mast towers over the infant playground at ****** Primary School and is visible from many properties on Hawthorn Road. It is also clearly visible from properties on Burnside Avenue. The new mast will be significantly more visually intrusive for even more homes, and a constant reminder of the possible threat to their health for numerous households.
Complying with the ICNIRP guidelines does not and cannot now allay public concern whilst the organisation, along with the NRPB, continue to ignore (not deny or disprove) peer reviewed research that proves a non thermal effect from mobile phone mast emissions. Peer reviewed means that it has been passed around the international scientific circuit of registered and accepted specialist scientists, accepted and agreed. I also note that now it is in the public domain it is well known that the NRPB, which sets out the guidelines, relies on research and documentation provided by a consultancy that works for one of the main operators. This further depletes public trust in the authorities and furthers public fear.
Another of my concerns is the access to the buildings behind the mast. There is a Church at the top of the path and the Scout Hut, which also houses Brookside Pre School. Currently there is available space for emergency vehicle access. I believe that the new mast and associated buildings will obstruct this pathway and therefore may endanger the lives of the users of these buildings, in particular the Pre School, which my daughter attends. I would appreciate written confirmation that this has been looked into and clarified with the emergency services.
Some consideration should be given to the fact that this particular area of ****** attracts many unpleasant activities. Cars are often burnt out on the park and more recently in the car park. Unpleasant people are often seen (and reported) in very close proximity to the mast, they often "hide" up near the scout hut. The new mast and adjacent buildings will be more prominent and will be closer to the emergency exit and the car park and therefore will be more attractive to vandals and other, more unsavoury people. At present the mast is completely unprotected, which is already a concern. I would again like written confirmation on exactly how you intend to protect the mast and buildings from vandalism and also from the possibility of damage from stolen vehicles which are often driven around and raced about on the Hill.
Putting the existing mast aside this is a new application and therefore the legal requirements must be fulfilled or the mast will be unlawful. This application should be considered purely on its own merits and the fact that there is already a mast there should not be part of the decision making process. I trust that significant consideration will be given to the issues that I have raised and that permission for the erection of a new mast on ****** Hill be refused.
For and on behalf of Action Against Masts
COMMITTEE PLANNING COMMITTEE (12.11.01)
Our objections are based on the following issues:
1. The proposed mast design would be a real eyesore.
The visual impact would be most detrimental to both visual and personal amenity. It would be visually very intrusive. This installation would be erected within 50 yards of the opposite elevated houses at eye level where a number of children live.
This total loss of personal amenity would change the quality of our life in our own home. Also, There is no justification to double the output of radio wave by having another mast - especially in the much publicized health hazards about mobile masts.
2. LOSS OF PERSONAL AMENITY IS A VALID PLANNING CONSIDERATION
It is the perceived health risk, which will cause a massive loss of amenity. This has already happened with the Orange mast. We the local community as well ***** Primary School were excluded from the decision making process and we are very angry as a community. Last year the residents did complain strongly about the erection of the Orange mast. There was a petition of nearly 100 signatures, which Stoke City Council chooses to ignore.
Because, by far the most significant and potentially damaging aspect of the proposal is the danger to health the erection of the mast will pose. Irrespective of whether the danger is perceived or real, the proposal has already caused a considerable amount of anxiety, worry and stress. These ill effects will be intensified if the application was to be approved.
The community is being made to feel unsafe. Genuine public perception of danger is a valid planning consideration.
PPG8 - Paragraph 29.
Health considerations and public concern can in principle be material considerations in determining applications for planning permission and prior approval. Whether such matters are material in a particular case is ultimately a matter for the courts. It is for the decision-maker (usually the local planning authority) to determine what weight to attach to such considerations in any particular case.
At the present residents of Gatley in Stockport are taking legal action against their city council who failed to take into consideration the perceived fear on the part of the population. The case has just been given leave to continue as it has been considered a valid argument in court (see NB below). Furthermore, several councils have turned down masts on health grounds and have won appeals this year including Harrow in London.
The Honorable Mr Justice Moseley stated in R v Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council ex prate Smith "It is arguable that actual and perceived health risks are relevant to sitting of these masts". The case was given leave to go forward to trial because of the valid argument.
The Court of Appeals decision in Newport County Borough Council v Secretary of State for Wales and Browning Ferris Environmental Services was that "fear even then not based on any logic or scientific proof, or indeed, even when it has no substance can still is a material consideration".
3. It is a legal obligation for BT Cellnet to explore all the other alternative sites. The planning application does not make clear the nature of the 'technical difficulties' associated with the alternative sites considered. We would expect to see documented (prior to any approval) clarification and, more importantly verification of the unsuitability of other possible sites. Rejection by the operator of the alternative sites must not be allowed on the grounds of economics and competition with Orange. Has real consideration been given to mast sharing by operator BT Cellnet? Finally what prevents the operators from erecting their mast in low-impact areas? There are plenty old buildings in open spaces to choose from in the surrounding area. Why ******* Business Park?
4. The Stewart Report (March 2001) clearly does not rule out the possible harmful effects of exposure to low-level electromagnetic fields. Irrespective of NRPB and ICNIRP guidelines. It would seem that the local community clearly demonstrates its own concerns about electro magnetic fields through the adoption of the restrictions imposed on mast erections on or around school grounds or buildings, health clinics, dental surgeries, hospitals. Why such a double standard if there are no risks? We can only conclude that the mast would pose a serious risk to our health. NRPB and ICNIRP do not consider the possibility of non- thermal effect which many internationally renowned scientists such as G.Hyland of Warwick University, Alistair Philips of Powerwatch, Leo Cherry and, more recently this week, Professor Barry Trower who produced a report for the Police Federation on the effects of the Tetra System much of which applies to mobile phone mast. All of these research scientists are arguing
that there are non-thermal effects and this is what is worrying.
Dr G Hyland points out in his report that those guidelines are of little use as they only take into accounts thermal tissue heating effects of the non-ionizing radiation and not the fr5equency-specific biological effects, which are the real concerns despite mounting international evidence in support of the latter.
5. I would want to know along that line, what commitments have Stoke-on-Trent City Council to its residents in terms of quality of life as stated in the Human Rights of October 2000 - article 8. Which states: "You have the right to respect: for your private & family life and your home".
It is Stoke-On-Trent policy to make areas more environmentally friendly to enhance the visible aspects in which residents have to live. By allowing a large building to house telecommunications equipments, they go against their own aims and policies for the improvement of the environment in Stoke-On -Trent city area, which is also a Health Targeted Zone by the Government. Stoke-On-Trent City Council can refuse this application on the environmental grounds. They have the authority. It is visually very intrusive. It is destruction to the quality of life and it impaired everyday working environment.
6. Finally, who will be liable for damages should low-level electromagnetic proved to be dangerous to health. Has Stoke-on-Trent City Council made suitable arrangements to deal with such claims? We would like the legal position on this issue clarified? Who is liable? It is a fact that many insurance companies are now excluding Public liability covers in respect of Telecommunications mast.
We would appreciate your swift response in this matter to the aforementioned issues. If all the points are not taken into consideration when making the decision, we will seek legal advice about proceeding in the same way as Gatley in Stockport. The residents did complained strongly last year about the orange mast. There was a petition with nearly hundreds of signatures, which Stoke City Council chooses to ignore.
With kind regards
I have 3 children, ***** 5, ***** 3, and ****** 6 months. They are my life, my purpose, my pride and my hope. I live to keep them safe and to teach them all I know about the world that we live in so that they can live long, happy and fulfilled lives. With the invasion of mobile phone masts all my hopes and dreams for their safe and secure future have disintegrated.
One-2-One with ****** Councils blessing are going to erect a 15 metre mast on the street adjacent to mine. It will be in close proximity to 3 elderly peoples homes as well as the local primary school and of course the hundreds of children who live in the estate that it will be situated.
We are supposed to live in a democracy but it does not feel like that at the moment. My children have no right to live safe and free from danger and my God given right to protect my children has been taken from me. Very soon I will lie in bed every night knowing my three children are sleeping in the beam of maximum intensity, they will be absorbing maximum levels of emissions from the mast which they will see from their bedroom window. They will pass the mast every day on their way to school and pre-school where they will then be in the beam of maximum intensity from an existing Vodafone mast. My children will be living in the beam of maximum intensity for every minute of every day.
I do not want any of my children to be a cancer statistic, I do not want any of my children to be used in some morbid research results, I do not want any of my children to be suing the telecommunications companies in 10 or 20 years time because of the, by then proven, damage to them and possibly my grandchildren Have we not learned anything from thalidomide, smoking, asbestosis and BSE/vCJD.
This country has guidelines but they only cover part of the emissions that these masts produce. Masts produce Microwaves, we all know what these do, they defrost our bread, warm up our food, cook our dinners, we know they HEAT. The emissions from these masts are the same except much lower so they do not heat the body up quite so much, though it still has an effect on our bodies but none considered to be a problem by many Government bodies and so as long as masts produce emissions below a set level they say its okay. However heating is not the only effect of microwaves. The non-heating effects that scientists have now proved have a biological effect on living cells(they change the cell and how it works) are NOT regulated in this country so there is no measure and no control and NO research - except on the population of Great Britain! Many eminent scientists argue that there is a link between cancer/leukaemia and the siting of these masts. Cancer as I understand it involves the mutation and duplication of cells - cells change - its been proved that there is a biological effect on living cells - I am sure you can come to your own conclusions!!
There is also another problem that has been reported. Unlike television waves and radio waves from other telecommunication units whose waves are continuous, mobile phone emissions PULSE. The frequency at which they pulse closely resembles the frequency of the electrical pulses of the brain. It is suggested that this is why there are increased reports of Epilepsy, depression, headaches, migraines etc in communities/schools that have masts.
Mobile phone technology is a new developing industry. There has been no full and developed research program into the long term effects - there hasn't been time. We cannot do without them now but we can treat the risks seriously and stop these masts going up where we know that there may be problems.
How can the telecommunication companies and the Government agencies categorically say that occurrences of cancer and leukaemia, especially in children, are not directly associated with the siting of masts, maybe in the school grounds, maybe on top of a block of flats. These masts are everywhere and most people don't know they're there. You might be suffering from one of the known problems and not realise why.
I am scared, very scared of what our future holds if something is not done soon. I am not an hysterical mother going off the deep end on a little bit of media attention. I have read substantial amounts of information for and against masts and have come to what I believe is a reasoned and educated conclusion. We do not want another BSE. I remember the previous government claiming that the media were scare mongering over the BSE crisis and that there was no risk to human health. First we could only eat certain tissue then we could eat a bit less of it and so it went on until the situation we have to day which everyone will agree is frightening…. let's not repeat the pattern .
Dear Mr Blair,
I am writing to you as one parent to another to plead for your help to protect the lives of my three children, **** 5, ****3 and ****5 months, and for the children of ****** whose lives are about to be put at risk regardless of their parents numerous and loud objections.
****** Council has decided that they cannot refuse permission for One2One to build a 15 metre mobile phone mast on a residential street near to my home. It will be in close proximity to three OAP homes as well as the local primary school and of course the hundreds of children living in the estate in which it will be situated.
We organised a campaign at very short notice to fight this but regardless of in excess of 250 written objections documenting a number of reasons, but mainly a loss of amenity and a detrimental effect on the community due to the known and perceived health risks, our objections were ignored. The Planning Department even had the audacity to misquote the Stewart Report (Planning Issues - 1.33 chopped at the full stop therefore changing the meaning of the reference) even though we were not allowed to use it in our own arguments as your Government has not yet implemented the recommendations.
We have taken legal advice and we know that we have a strong case against our Council (not enough documentation, have not fulfilled the legal requirements of questions on mast sharing and other locations, contravening our human rights) but we find that if we want to take it to the first hurdle it will cost £2,500. However when we get leave for a Judicial Review it could well cost us £50,000 even when we win. In other words, as the law stands we cannot fight for what is right because we have not got enough money. We are supposed to live in a democracy but it does not feel like that at the moment. My children have no right to live safe and free from danger and my God given right to protect my children has been taken from me. In three weeks (or less) I will lie in bed every night knowing my three children are sleeping in the beam of maximum intensity, they will be absorbing maximum levels of emissions from the mast which they will see from their bedroom window. They will pass the mast every day on their way to school and pre-school where they will then be in the beam of maximum intensity from an existing Vodafone mast (erected within 100m several months ago without residents' or the schools' knowledge). And as if it couldn't get worse, One2One will be erecting another mast approximately 500m from my home on the A34 main road. My children will be living in the beam of maximum intensity for every minute of every day.
I do not want any of my children to be a cancer statistic, I do not want any of my children to be used in some morbid research results, I do not want any of my children to be suing the telecommunications companies in 10 or 20 years time because of the, by then proven, damage to them and possibly my grandchildren (as in thalidomide, smoking, asbestosis and very soon BSE/vCJD).
I was recently given a quote attributed to Haile Selassie:
You are in the position of power that we need to get rid of this danger to our children. Please please don't let the greedy triumph over the helpless. I believe you are a man of honour and principle, I know you love and cherish your children above all else and wish the best for them in their lives ahead. I am sure you and Cherie understand the instinctive anger that I feel because I know I cannot keep my children safe. My little *** is 6 weeks younger than your Leo, I feel that I have brought my little girl into a world where she is about to be damaged and hurt every minute of every day I know that you would feel the same way if Leo or any of your children were being put at that sort of risk.
Our Council is weak and refuses to protect us, our MP is the Conservative ********* who has little influence, you are our last hope. I am very very scared. I have heard the argument that there is no proven health risk from these masts that the emissions are well below the guidelines, but there are many in the world that say our guidelines are flawed. Many countries, including United States of America, Australia and New Zealand acted many years ago on their own governments research and banned them in residential situations. We seem to be lagging behind yet again. You, I and many many others know that there is a very real risk from these masts and that we need to do lots more research before we should allow these masts to be put up where they are being put. The fact that the government is putting £7 million into researching the effects of mobile phones and masts shows that your government is taking the risk seriously. I am not another hysterical mother going off the deep end on a little bit of scaremongering. I have read substantial amounts of information for and against masts and have come to what I believe is a reasoned and educated conclusion. We do not want another BSE. I remember the previous government claiming that the media were scaremongering over the BSE crisis and that there was no risk to human health. First we could only eat certain tissue then we could eat a bit less of it and so it went on until the situation we have to day…. let's not repeat the pattern .
I know that you have intervened on behalf of your constituents in Thornley, Durham. Please, we are all your constituents and we need you to intervene on all our behalf. Please help me keep my babies safe and let me, and you, sleep at night.
We haven't got long to stop this mast so I would appreciate a reply as soon as possible.
HEALTH IS A MATERIAL PLANNING CONSIDERATION
1. NPPG 19 is not legally binding. It is guidance, not law
2. There is legal precedent (see below) for health and perceived risk to health being accepted as a material planning consideration. This is the most important point when decisions on TETRA masts are being made.
3. If you decide not to give the 12 TETRA masts planning permission, Airwave mmO2 will appeal to the Scottish Executive. You have been advised that substantial costs will be awarded against you – but this is not necessarily the case.
As an objector to the application, NO2 TETRA will ask for the appeal to be heard by a Public Local Inquiry, rather than by a Reporter deciding on written submissions.
In a case such as this, which affects the whole of Scotland, and where adverse health effects have already resulted from masts in England (Dursley, Liss and Isle of Wight), it is highly unlikely that your refusal of planning permission will be deemed unreasonable behaviour which is the only ground for an award of expenses against you (Code of Practice para 4).
In the unlikely event that your arguments fail, Airwave’s costs will not be awarded against Fife Council, in a case of such national relevance.
4. As pointed out in the report on each mast by Fife Council officials, the principles of assessment for police communications masts are not established in NPPG 19 – only those for domestic or business use. Is it legally correct to assume that the same principles will apply when this has not been clarified?
LEGAL PRECEDENTS WHICH STATE THAT HEALTH AND PERCEIVED RISK TO HEALTH ARE LEGITIMATE PLANNING CONSIDERATIONS
Skelt v the First Secretary of State and Three Rivers District Council and Orange PCS Ltd.
Three Rivers Council refused planning permission for an Orange mast in Chorleywood.
Orange appealed this decision.
The planning inspectorate (the English equivalent of the Scottish Executive Reporter) allowed the appeal on the grounds that because the mast conformed to ICNIRP guidelines, there was no need to consider health concerns.
The local action group appealed this decision to the High Court.
The case was conceded by the government before it got to court. The Inspector’s ruling was quashed with these words:
“The defendant’s inspector [sic] failure to adequately consider the weight to be given to the health concerns of the claimant in his decision letter.”
This case downgrades the ICNIRP certificate to no more than an information document, and negates the authority of NPPG 19 paras 53 – 55.
It also echoes the findings of the Court of Appeal in Newport Borough Council v the Secretary of State for Wales and Browning Ferris Environmental Services Ltd (1997) which concluded that the perception of a health risk by the public was a material planning consideration, referring to “a perceived fear which by itself could affect the amenity of the area”.
R v Stockport ex parte Smith
Planning application for a “street lamp” mast at Gatley was approved on the advice of a planning official that health was not a material consideration.
Local residents applied for leave to apply for a Judicial Review.
Leave to appeal was granted on the basis that:
“It is arguable that actual and perceived health risks are relevant to the siting of these masts, and that the latter was not taken into account.”
The case did not come to Court because One2One conceded, and agreed not to erect the mast.
The two cases cited above make it clear that planning committees do not have to have proof that TETRA masts are a risk to health. It is only necessary to know that for each mast there is a fear of, or perceived, risk to health.
U K case law also makes it clear that the perceived risk to health need not relate solely to radiation, but the stress caused by the actual installation of the mast, the harm to living conditions caused by the noise from the base station and the wind in the antennae.
The Queen on the application of Julia Herman and others (claimants) and Winchester City Council (defendant) and Orange Personal Communications Services Ltd (interested party)
Planning permission was granted with councillors and senior officials telling residents that health could not be taken into account. A Judicial Review was sought on behalf of children whose health was at risk due to the mast's proximity to their school.
Mr Justice Hooper instructed the local authority that they should settle or run the risk of losing, and effectively gave them 35 days to come back to court with an agreed order, which they did.
A new application was then submitted by Orange, which the Local Planning Authority (LPA) refused on health grounds and other reasons. Orange appealed that decision and a public inquiry was held at which the inspector upheld their appeal and awarded costs against the LPA. It is not understood why the LPA did not challenge the costs award when legal opinion was that they would win any such challenge. The decision of the Inspector does not set precedent – only the courts can do this.
An appeal on the decision of the public inquiry is to be heard in the High Court early in 2004. At the hearing for leave to appeal, the High Court accepted that health is a material planning consideration.
Susan Trevett v the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions
In this case the appeal Inspector rightly ruled that 'such weight as might be appropriate in the particular circumstances of the case' should be given to the question of health. He then failed to consider what weight, if any, he would give to the public concerns.
This became a Section 288 Appeal, before Mr Justice Sullivan on 25 November 2002 (para 23 of that judgment). Whilst finding no fault with the decision of the Inspector he clarified the position:
The main point of this decision is that the ICNIRP certificate cannot act as block to full and proper consideration of health effects. Poorly presented arguments allowed for the health concerns to be dismissed in this case, but as case law this decision makes it clear that each application must be looked at on a case by case basis. It follows that any stated procedure of following Government guidance without taking into account the individual circumstances of each case would be contrary to law (cf Skelt)
The Human Rights Act - 1998, Article 8 - Right to respect for private and family life covers a vast range of issues and subjects, including …… the right to be free from severe environmental pollution…..’ ‘A New Era of Rights and Responsibilities – Core Government Guidance to Local Authorities’ at para 55.
1. In the light of case law precedent, accept that health is a material and legitimate planning consideration.
2. Decide what weight to attach to health risks and perceived risks to health when making a decision on a planning application.
Consider the 'ICNIRP' guidelines and recall their inadequacies admitted by the members of the NRPB. i.e. - they are based on assumption that only thermal affects are significant, not certainty of knowledge. They exclude the substantial body of international scientific evidence which identifies serious medical harms arising from pulsed microwave emissions and for which there exist unchallenged hypotheses. The ICNIRP guidelines, such as they are, pertain to a 'general population' and make no allowance for particular and vulnerable groups who will be found in many communities.
3. Note reasons in the written decision.