TMCnet News

Planners allow 1,500 phone masts
[February 03, 2006]

Planners allow 1,500 phone masts

(Belfast Telegraph Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge)Planners have given the go-ahead for over 1,000 Ulster mobile phone masts in the last six years, despite concerns about their alleged long-term health effects.

Opinion is divided on the impact of telecommunications equipment on people's health but the Planning Service has approved 1,507 applications for development sites since 2000.

The news comes despite Northern Ireland having one of the tightest planning regimes in the UK.

South Down Assemblyman Jim Wells said the construction rate, which is due to increase with the advent of 3G technology allowing the playing of videos through the telephone, could be cut through mast-sharing.

"We are likely to see a proliferation of these masts and residents' groups around the country are becoming more and more concerned," he said.

"We don't know what the long-term health effects of these masts are but there is a simple solution to this.

"If the five mobile operators in Northern Ireland would share masts this would dramatically cut down on the number of applications. At the minute they all have their own masts and this is causing the country to be covered with them."

Legislation passed in 2002 means that all mobile masts, regardless of height, need planning permission. Not all successful applications end up being built because of objections from local residents.

Most planning refusals come because of their visual impact rather than the alleged health effects.

Phone companies argue the masts are essential for reliable coverage for users of what has become an essential tool of everyday life.

A spokeswoman for the Mobile Operators' Association industry body said: "During the past five years there have been no less than 27 international scientific committees have looked at research into health effects and mobile phones and base stations and all of them are saying the same thing, that there's no evidence that the very low signals which come from these masts cause damage to anyone's health."

[ Back To's Homepage ]