Article from the Jan 2005 issue of the Socialist , newspaper of the Socialist Party, Irish section of the CWI

3G broadband health threat

by Brian Greene

UNTIL 2004 there were 1500 mobile phone masts in the South of Ireland, now with the advent of 3G broadband mobile there is a rash of new mobile masts springing up all over the country.

The four mobile companies 02, Vodafone, Meteor & 3Ireland are busy installing new masts, replicating four networks in the name of competition.

Site sharing and inter-network roaming has yet to materialise, whilst communities are faced with new masts encroaching on homes and schools as the mobile operators rush to establish the new 3G services.

The government has gifted these multinational phone companies planning exemptions that by-pass planning guidelines, allowing them to erect mobile masts on top of public buildings.

In Baldoyle, 3Ireland has installed a pair of masts on top of a football club only 15 meters from the local school. The electromagnetic radiation from these masts operate, at frequencies between 900 mega hertz and 2.1 giga hertz. The health effects from these masts is far from clear and most studies point to a precautionary approach and seek to place masts as far away from communities and schools as possible.

However the 2001 planning exceptions introduced by then Minister for the Environment Noel Dempsey allowed these masts to by-pass planning guidelines and concerns by local residents or school children who live beside these harmful developments have been ignored.

Competition gives us four duplicated networks and government takes billions of euro in licence fees and allows these companies to avoid normal planning guidelines.

This will not fool the people, action groups are springing up all over the country and local Socialist Party reps are at the forefront.

Huntstown residents' phone Mast victory

by Pauline Keeley

A MAJOR victory for the residents of Huntstown, Dublin West was declared when An Bord Pleanála refused phone company O2 permission to retain their base station and phone mast on the roof of JKS Accountancy service at Huntstown.

An excellent submission by Socialist Party Cllr. Ruth Coppinger on behalf of the residents was a major deciding factor. An Bord Pleanla upheld every objection submitted by Cllr. Coppinger except the health effects of microwave radiation.

The planning board could hardly be expected to concede the health issues, if they did, the phone company would be open to being sued by people from Donegal to Cork.

The various government departments entrusted with ensuring the health and safety of people need to examine how phone companies can erect their equipment without informing anybody and flout guidelines laid down to protect the rights of the public. Until we have an independent body, free from influence of the phone industry, the people will have to be the watchdog.

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