Friday, 22 May 2009

Planners reject Queen's Park parents' 'phone mast safety fears

Brighton and Hove City Council’s Planning Committee has granted permission for a new 3G 'phone mast to be built on Freshfield Rd just metres from Queen’s Park School and the Royal Spa nursery, despite the objections of both schools' headteachers and most parents.

I met a lot of parents from Queen's Park School when I went there twice last week to let them know about the application, and collect signatures on a petition against the mast, and most were deeply concerned. Some 70 signed our petition.

Lest be clear - no-one's saying we shouldn't have mobile 'phone masts, just that while any uncertainty remains over the safety we don't put them on top of schools or hospitals.

But this was not so much a bad decision by planners (though it was certainly that!) as much as it was a failure of the planning system.

Residents were represented at the planning meeting by my fellow Green Party councillor Rachel Fryer.

Speaking afterwards, she said:

"It is clear that members of the planning committee shared concerns about phone masts being sited so near to schools.

"Unfortunately, due to planning law and government ruling, potential health risks could not be used as a reason for refusal.

"This is despite the fact that the Stewart report of 2005 on the health effects of mobile phone masts, found evidence of effects occurring at levels below recommended guidelines and the report recommended a precautionary approach, such as that used in Australia, where no masts are erected within 1km of any school or hospital.

“It is high time that mobile phone companies worked together to share network coverage so there is not a continual need for more phone masts, wasting energy, resources and causing potential increased health risks.

"We also need to ensure there is independent research regarding the health effects of masts and until we are absolutely certain they are safe, we should exercise the precautionary approach along the lines of that in Australia.”

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