By David Sapsted
Police forces admitted
yesterday that a growing rural revolt was threatening the creation of
a country-wide communications network for the emergency services.
The actress Sarah
Miles has joined the campaign against the Tetra masts
Though the Home Office
insists the March 2005 target for the planned national introduction
of the MM02 Airwave network would be met, forces said they faced delays.
This is because of
mounting opposition from the public and local planning authorities
over health fears.
In West Sussex, all
the leading landowners have reportedly pledged not to allow the
network's Tetra (terrestrial trunked radio) masts to be erected on
their land because of safety concerns.
They include the Duke
of Norfolk, Lady Sarah Clutton, at Angerming Park, Lord March, at
Goodwood and Lord Cowdray.
"There is a
massive rebellion going on throughout the country," said John
O'Brien, a leading campaigner based in Arundel, West Sussex.
"It is not a
Nimby issue, it's a health issue. At the moment, the resistance is
very locally based, but it is only a matter of time before it
coalesces into a national movement."
actress Sarah Miles, who lives near Midhurst, said: "If we care
for our planet and our homes, we have got to make sure that future
generations are not poisoned by this system.
"It has taken a
long while for people to wake up, but now there is an increasing
awareness of the dangers from these masts and a readiness to take
action to stop them being built."
Lord March said:
"There is a body of scientific work available now which
categorically states that Tetra is potentially dangerous to health.
question is fully debated and completely resolved, we would not
consider allowing the system to be sited anywhere on the Goodwood estate."
Though the Home Office
insists the system is safe, it is spending another £5 million to
try to prove it. In a study commissioned from Imperial College,
London, researchers are monitoring any adverse health effects on
officers at the 26 forces already using it.
Opponents claim the
microwave emissions from the 100ft masts, being erected in their
thousands around the country, can produce cancer clusters. At best,
they interfere with television reception and even car immobilisers.
Campaigners appear to
be achieving an increasing number of victories in at least delaying
In Hampshire, the
introduction of the system has been put on hold after East Hampshire
district council rejected proposals from MM02 Airwave to erect masts
without planning permission.
Councillors in east
Fife recently stalled nine planning applications for six months
because of health concerns.
On the Gower peninsula
in Wales, campaigners are seeking a judicial review of the whole
process of mast erection.
Mr O'Brien added:
"Resistance is growing as awareness spreads that these things
are not only unsightly but can be very dangerous."
Police chiefs are
anxious to see an integrated Tetra system operating because it offers
improved and more secure communications, particularly in remote areas.
disappointed that the roll-out of Airwave is behind schedule,"
said Clive Wolfendale, Sussex's Deputy Chief Constable.
But the Police
Federation, while welcoming better communications, has reservations
about the health issue.
In Lancashire, the
first force to start using Tetra two years ago, a survey by the
federation found that almost 180 officers complained of deafness,
migraine and nausea after using it for long periods.
There have also been
complaints from officers in Yorkshire and the South-West