Ryeview – September 2006

Phone mast solution comes at a high price

John Clark writes…

First published: September 2006 – Gazette & Herald

Why don’t people want a mobile phone mast near them? Up goes the cry that they are not safe. OK, if they are not safe, why are they on schools and in villages? The vast majority of a village in Ryedale are pleading for a mast to be moved. Why is it still there?

Maybe the answer is the ‘market’ or ‘choice’. As a school governor I asked why the school sold: salt, high sugar and ‘things go better with’ drinks. It was a matter of choice and the school benefited from the sales. Causing harm to our children is not a matter of choice, it is wrong.

I was right over junk food in schools. So let me suggest a route forward for mobile phones. For two years I was on Ryedale District Council’s Planning Committee and voted against all planning applications for masts. There may not have been a ‘material planning consideration’ but there was a potential danger. My concern was the wellbeing of people and on the precautionary principle that we don’t know the safety of the technology.

Following this logic, I was delighted when I received dozens of letters from the residents of Sheriff Hutton. These letters expressed opposition to a mast on health grounds and asked RDC for it to be ‘relocated to a suitable location, which does not impact on anyone else’.

It was proposed in the Policy and Resources Committee that ‘In principle the council wishes to negotiate a relocation of the mast subject to officers being satisfied that it is legal to do so’. I proposed an amendment by the addition of the words ‘to a suitable location that does not impact on anyone else’.

My amendment was defeated. In other words the motion was just for Sheriff Hutton. Not a motion to ensure it was safe for others. I am not prepared to spend hard earned Council Tax money on moving a mast from one ‘unsafe’ place to another ‘unsafe’ place. I voted against.

Most of the Sheriff Hutton people I have spoken to do not appear to have a NIMBY view of the mast. They are concerned about the ‘safety’ of people, not just the residents of Sheriff Hutton. I agree. Unfortunately, there are further twists.

  • 90% of 12 year olds have a mobile phone.
  • It is believed that for each person, more harm is likely to be done by their mobile phone than a mast.
  • To make matters worse, the further away the mast, the harder the mobile phone has to transmit, and thus the more harm done.

On this basis, to protect our children as they use mobile phones, masts should be placed on schools, near supermarkets, youth clubs and in the centre of Ryedale villages.

The above appears to be a puzzle beyond our ability to solve. I have a solution but, like all solutions it has a price. The solution is no mobile phone masts. The price is no mobile phones.

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