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Last Updated: Friday, 1 August, 2003, 11:51 GMT 12:51 UK
Too Close for Comfort
electricity pylon
For the full week's coverage, see below
Would you like to live in the shadow of an electricity pylon - or downwind of a waste incinerator? They're not pleasant to look at - but could they actually damage your health?

All this week on Breakfast, we've been hearing from ordinary people who are campaigning to rid their neighbourhoods of just such developments.

Friday: make a difference

Is it possible for ordinary people to campaign against developments like mobile phone masts and actually beat the big corporations?

In the final part of our series, we talked to three people who've done just that.

  • Case study

    Nick Boyd was part of a community group which successfully campaigned against an incerator plant being built near his Wiltshire village.

  • How do you start a campaign?

    We talked to seasoned campaigner from Friends of the Earth Mike Childs - and to Nichola Escott, who prevented a landfill site opening near her local school.

    Thursday: mobile phone masts

  • Albert's story we heard from one Breakfast viewer, Albert Corbett, whose West Sussex home is near no less than 10 mobile phone masts

  • Why don't we trust scientists any more? Many members of the public routinely disbelieve any reassurances from scientits. We asked - what can be done - and should we expect 100 per cent certainty, with Dr Bill Durodie and Professor Brian Wynne of Lancaster University

    Wednesday: waste incinerators

    On the day that the Health Protection Agency confirms it's looking into any possible links between incinerators and clusters of disease, we found out out more about the possible dangers of burning our rubbish

    Dave Morgan lives near a huge waste incinerator
    Dave Morgan finds he's wheezing all the time

  • Dave Morgan from North London told us of his concerns at living close to the largest incinerator in the country.

  • We talked live to Baroness Young, the Chief Executive of the Environment Agency

    The Environment Agency has a special interactive website where you can find out about issues which affect where you live. It's called What's in your backyard?

  • We also spoke to Dr Pat Troop, of the Health Protection Agency, a new official umbrella body which is launching a new study of the effects of incinerators, pylons and other possible pollutants.

    "We are concerned about people's worries," she explained. "One of our programmes is to look at the effects of long-term low-level exposure to chemicals - at the moment, most of our studies are from chemical spillages."

    The HPA brings together several existing organisations in a new grouping - and it also has 32 local teams, to help address people's concerns about the environment in their own area.

    Tuesday: pesticides

    On today's programme Graham Satchell looked at the issue of pesticides.

    He spoke to Georgina Downs whose family home is next to a farm which sprays pesticides onto its crops.

    The government says there's no health risk from pesticides.

    But some campaigners are still concerned about living near to those farms using them.

    Georgina certainly feels that the drift from the pesticide sprayer on the farm next to her home led to a series of childhood illnesses.

    My throat would swell up to such a degree that the sides almost touched each other
    Georgina Downs

    Symptoms included a mouth full of blisters, headaches and flu-type illnesses. These - culminated in her spending a month in hospital.

    The government is currently engaged in a consultation exercise in relation to pesticides.

    It is looking at two issues : should farmers be legally obliged to inform local residents when they intend to spray their crops?

    And should a buffer zone be imposed between farms and neighbouring residents?

    If you wish to take part in that consultation exercise, click on the link below.

    We interviewed Michael Paske, from the National Farmers Union about how and why farmers use pesticides on their fields.

    Michael Paske emphasised that farmers are not breaking the law and said that there were already codes of practice in place which all farmers should be following.

    All pesticides are tested...farmers are not doing anything wrong
    Michael Paske, National Farmers Union

    But he welcomed the current consultation exercise.

    And he also said that new reforms to the Common Agricultural Policy which have recently been announced by the European Union should also help the situation.

    Monday: electricity pylons

    On Monday's programme we heard from Maureen Asbury, from Stoke on Trent.

    She believes that the electricity pylons which run through her estate are responsible for serious health problems, including depression and miscarriages.

    Maureen carried out her own survey of residents living near the mast which overshadows her home.

    She found increased incidences of depression, insomnia, headaches, eating problems and miscarriages.

    A silent killer in our midst, that's how I describe it
    Maureen Asbury

    But scientific reports for the government on pylons say that overall there is no convincing evidence of a public health risk.

  • We'd also like to hear from you.

    If you're worried that there are developments in your area which could pose a hidden health hazard, let us know.

    If you're happy to appear on camera to explain why, please include your address and daytime phone number.

    Your E-mail address
    town or city

    Disclaimer: The BBC may edit your comments and cannot guarantee that all e-mails will be published.

    Monday : electricity pylons
    "Different scientists say different things"

    Tuesday : Pesticides
    Graham Satchell reports on one campaigner's fight

    BBC Breakfast


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