Hampshire County Council's case against Tetra masts

New Milton Advertisor

   Hampshire County Council have voted to reiterate their stand against the ever-increasing numbers of radio masts that have prompted a flurry of health concerns.

   The controversial Terrestrial Trunked Radio (Tetra) masts began appearing across the region last year to provide a communications system for emergency services and in particular the police. But public concerns over the long-term health effects of the masts have prompted the County Councils Environmental Policy Review Committee to look at the matter again. Councillor Brian Dash forwarded the motion that: "This Council notes the concerns of planning authorities in our county by the proliferation of Tetra communication masts, particularly where masts are erected without planning permission. It also shares the concerns of local people who are worried about the risk to health presented by this technology.

   After receiving representations from Hampshire Police Authority, Mast Action UK, whose main objective is to ensure that masts required for this and similar communications are appropriately sited having regard to people's concerns, and the National Radiological Protection Board the committee compiled a report explaining their stand against Tetra masts.

   The committee heard that advice from Dr. Michael Clarke, of the National Radiological Protection Board recognised: "Whilst at this stage there was no evidence of unacceptable risks in relation to the communications at large, some people were susceptible to adverse effects where Tetra and other communication systems had been brought into operation."

   Dr. Clarke told the "A&T" that the Tetra masts operate at a continuous frequency, it is only the handsets that pulse when sending and receiving messages. 'I can understand why some people, particularly those living in the New Forest region, become nervous when they see that Tetra masts are affecting the TV signals. They think, "If thats what it is doing to my television then what is it doing to me?''

  "Tetra masts and television broadcasts operate at a very similar frequency and this can sometimes lead to interruptions in television programmes. But we are not TV aerials and do not react in the same way, but certainly I can see why people get concerned about the masts", said Dr. Clarke.

   Due to the schedule of Tetra introduction, the normal planning process has frequently been by-passed, causing greater concern to the community at large. Whilst the Council acknowledged that current government advice was that health issues should not be considered as part of the planning process as long as the masts meet International Commission on Non lonising Radiation Protection standards, they did not agree with this standpoint. Council Leader Ken Thornber said: "We cannot take the chance of affecting the health of our children."

   The Council agreed that it was against the siting of Tetra masts on its land and buildings particularly close to residential areas and schools. They also decided to make representations to the Local Government Association (LGA) and the County Councils Network to press the government tc reassess its current policy so as to take the health concerns of rhe community into account more fully, particularly in relation to the siting of masts in inappropriate locations like built up areas.