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Fortwilliam Action Committee

Cye Bannon, Ken Davis, Kate Donnelly, Martin Henry, Ruari Higgins; Imelda Keeling,
Gerardine Leonard, Joan Lundy, Edward McCamley, Brian Mulvenna, Brian Poots.

A Christmas pressie from BT that you can't refuse - a PHONE MAST

(in front of shops opposite Shaftesbury) - just what you always wanted!

BT has Prior Approval for a 10-metre mast on the footpath in front of 642/44 Antrim Road. Prior Approval means masts under 15m high are not subject to the full planning process - the Planning Office granted approval on 1st Nov and you 'cannot' object!

This mast will be erected less than 150m from the gates of two local primary schools and a nursing home - there is acknowledged risk from these masts for vulnerable groups such as babies and children whose cells are still dividing; the sick and elderly whose immune systems are depressed; those suffering from epilepsy and other neurological conditions. (see over for further information)

The Government says school governors must be consulted on all proposals for new masts on or near a school - yet the Principals, Governors and PTAs of the two schools were not aware of the BT Cellnet application let alone approval. The owner of 642 Antrim Road was not informed of these plans and neither were the neighbouring owner/occupiers of the premises and residences. This can only indicate BT Cellnet's disregard for local opinion - and the telecommunication industry code of practice "10 commitments" which aim to improve consultation with local communities.

The Belfast Telegraph notice for this mast appeared 26th October giving a 14-day objection period but the Planning Office issued approval after only six days. BT used prior approval in the knowledge that local residents have objected to no less than five other BT applications less than one mile away - at the Lansdowne, the gatelodge & Somerton Road.

The local shops have reported that BT is already making preparations on the site - if you want to stop this mast you must act now:

Write to BT, use the attached example letter to write your own or add your name, address, date & signature and post the printed letter to BT.

Write letters to local newspapers, phone TV & Radio programmes such as Fair Play & Talkback (9033 8000 -ask for the producer of the programme) - the greater the number of calls the more likely they are to pick up the story.

Write/phone the Planning Office: Divisional Planning Manager, Planning Service NI, Bedford House, Bedford Street, BT2 7FD - Tel: 90252 800. The Case Officer is Chris Bryson @ 9025 2814

Background Information

Do our children and residents in this area not deserve the same protection as that in other parts of the UK where authorities have banned all masts on or near schools - or as that in many countries such as Australia, Sweden, New Zealand, parts of America, where 500 metre exclusion zones have been imposed around this equipment?

The Stewart Inquiry (a report commissioned by Government and led by chief government scientific adviser Sir William Stewart) recommended that a 'precautionary approach' be used in the siting of masts - especially close to schools. The report stated not enough research had been undertaken into the non-thermal effects of radiation and over £7 million worth of research is currently underway. Results are not expected until 2002/3. The NI Assembly Environment Committee has stated the Planning Service should "actively support rigorous precautionary measures".

The health effects of mobile phone technology (microwave low frequency pulsating radiation) are not yet fully understood and may take another 15/20 years to emerge. The World Health Organization and the Department of Health have stated there are "significant gaps in scientific knowledge - in the meantime, masts disguised as street furniture are being erected in residential districts.

Sir William Stewart has stated that children would be more vulnerable to radiation effects as they have thinner skulls, smaller heads and a developing nervous system and brain. Professor Om Gandhi, Utah University has shown that radiation absorption rates are much higher in children than adults - at least 50% higher in the heads of 5 year olds and at least 20% higher in the heads of 10 year olds. Dr Hyland has recommended that in the siting of masts "attention should be given to topography so that in a hilly terrain, there are no homes, schools, hospitals on a level with the emitting antennae".

A mast can be approved if it meets ICNIRP guidelines re "safe levels" but these do not cover non-thermal or 'heating' effects on the body - in N Ireland the permitted levels are 450 Mw/cm2 yet the European Union recently recommended a power level of 10 Mw/cm2 (Microwatts/cm2). Many countries have exclusion zones of at least 500 metres (2000m in Russia!) Masts have a 'beam of greatest intensity' - this is where the maximum power level meets the ground usually between 50m and 200m from the transmitter itself (according to its height).

Research projects have shown that non-thermal effects produce a broad range of health problems such as cancer, changes in behaviour, memory-loss, headaches, sleep disturbance, immune system degradation, blood/brain barrier permeability, brain electrochemical effects, Parkinsons and Alzheimers Diseases.

In Northern Ireland proximity to phone masts is now included in surveyors reports.

This mast denies you a choice - unlike a mobile phone you cannot choose to avoid or restrict your exposure to radiation - it emits continuously.

Please do write that letter - it does count! - the next mast might be outside your home

You might also like to:

Write to local MP & MLAs - Mr Nigel Dodds MP 210 Shore Road Belfast (90774774); Mr Alban Maginness MLA 228 Antrim Road Belfast BT15 2AN (90220520); Mr Gerry Kelly MLA 51/55 Falls Road, Belfast; Mr Billy Hutchinson MLA 135 Shore Road Belfast BT15 3PN (90772307); Mr Fraser Agnew MLA c/o Parliament Buildings Belfast BT4 3XX; Mr Fred Cobain MLA 921 Crumlin Road Belfast BT15 3GU.

Write to the Town Planning Committee of Belfast City Council - let them know we have faced eight mast applications along a 1.5 mile stretch of the Antrim Road since February this year and we are not happy that groups of private citizens have to battle mast application after mast application. The following Castle Ward councillors are also on the Town Planning Committee (ie the Committee which the Planning Office consults) Cllr D Lavery Chairman, Cllr D Browne, Cllr B Hutchinson MLA, Cllr A Maginness MLA, - all can be contacted through the Members Room City Hall Belfast BT1 5GB.

If you would like more information contact Joanne Cunningham (90225447) or e-mail fortwilliamaction@hotmail.com