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Keith Ferrin, Kent County Council
"It is better to be safe than sorry"
 real 28k

Monday, 22 January, 2001, 08:54 GMT
Council considers mobile mast ban
Moblie phone mast
There are health concerns about mobile phone masts
A local authority will on Monday consider the introduction of a ban on mobile phone masts amid continuing concerns about their threat to health.

Kent County Council could become the first local authority in the country to ban the erection of new masts on council land or property such as schools, hospitals or libraries.

It is thought that many other local authorities may follow suit.

At present, there are 20,000 mobile phone masts in the UK, and it is estimated that a further 100,000 may be built in the next five years.

A report by Sir William Stewart, the government's chief scientific adviser, into the safety of mobile phone masts published last year found no firm evidence of a threat to health - but did not rule out the possibility.

Sir William recommended stricter planning controls on masts.

Sandy Bruce Lockhart, the leader of Kent County Council, said: "We want the industry to accept its environmental health responsibilities.

"At the moment you have got masts going up all over the place in an uncoordinated fashion."

Voluntary controls

Michael Dolan, a spokesman for the UK mobile phone operators, acknowledged that there were public concerns about the impact of mobile phone masts on health.

But he said: "It is important to remember that the Stewart Report did conclude that on the balance of evidence there was no risk to health for anyone living near these base stations provided that they operate within international guidelines.

"In May of last year as a precautionary measure the industry agreed voluntarily to comply with those international guidelines."

Suggestions that the masts present a radiation hazard were dismissed by a study by the National Radiological Protection Board.

Readings carried out by the NRPB from 17 masts found that nobody living or working near them was exposed to more than 0.2% of the radiation level considered acceptable under national guidelines.

Mobile phone companies have agreed that they might share masts - but a recent survey by Strutt&Parker has shown that only one in six masts is actually shared.

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08 Dec 00 | Health
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30 Jun 00 | Health
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