Landmark ruling means there could be A PHONE MAST BY EVERY SCHOOL
Sunday Mail Nov 13, 2004
THOUSANDS of mobile phone masts can be put up close to schools across Britain, judges ruled yesterday.
The landmark decision provoked outrage from radiation experts and parents who fear the masts pose a serious health risk.
One leading scientist called the decision 'criminally irresponsible' and said children would be used as 'guinea pigs' in a mass experiment. In the test case, three judges dismissed a Government appeal to halt the building of an 81ft mast transmitting third generation, or 3G, mobile services to be sited near to two primary schools and one secondary school in Harrogate, North Yorkshire.
The case, at the Court of Appeal in London, sets a precedent for councils nationwide effectively paving the way for mobile operators to locate masts wherever they want.
It comes despite the fact that in 2000 the Government-backed Stewart Report suggested schools should have a right of veto over masts. The recommendation was ignored.
LibDem MP Phil Willis said: 'The effect of this decision is to sweep aside the recommendations in the Stewart Report and give operators freedom to site masts on or near school playing fields throughout the UK.'
There are concerns that masts could be linked to health problems from headaches and nausea to cancer clusters. Early evi≠dence from a Dutch study suggests that 3G may pose a greater risk than older systems.
Dr Gerald Hyland, a retired professor of theoretical physics at Warwick University, said: 'It's criminally irresponsible to permit the roll-out of a technology which has undergone minimal testing and where what testing has been done shows health problems.
'The whole thing is completely out of hand but big money speaks louder than common sense. Schoolchildren and anybody living nearby are going to be involuntary subjects in a mass experiment. They are effectively being used as guinea pigs.
'Children's skulls are thinner so radiation gets in more easily and the smaller size of their head facilitates the absorption of the radiation. If anything goes wrong with children, their immune systems are less robust.'
Despite health concerns, payments of around £7,000 have tempted more than 140 schools to take cash from mobile phone firms to allow them to place masts on their premises. This week it emerged that every school in London has a mobile phone mast within 200 yards and at one school in the capital there are an astonishing 27 within that range. Nationally, the figure is one in ten schools.
Some 35,000 3G masts have already been put up in Britain and another 12,000 applications are expected.
Yesterday's decision centred on an application by Orange, Hutchison and T-Mobile to use a mast, or base station, located within 400 yards of three schools in Harrogate ---St Robert's and Woodfield primary schools and Granby High School.
Alasdair Philips, of the pressure group PowerWatch, claimed the Government had known it would not win the appeal and accused it of putting on a 'show trial' to win 'brownie points' with the public.
LibDem Mr Willis, chairman of the all-party Mobile Communications Group and MP for Harrogate and Knaresborough, said the decision was 'a body blow to concerned par≠ents throughout the country'.
The Mobile Operators Association said that 'even the highest radio wave emissions' from base stations are well below guidelines set down, by an international commission.