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County accused over mast response


A group campaigning for a mobile phone mast to be moved says the county council is failing in its duty of care to children at two schools.

No Masts In Southwell wants a mast, erected by O2 at the Telephone Exchange on The Ropewalk in September, to be moved.

The mast, which replaced a smaller monopole, is about 150-metres from the Lowe’s Wong infants’ and junior schools.

The campaign group is concerned about possible effects on pupils’ health.

The group, the head of the infants’ school, Mrs Vanessa Platt, and the head of the junior school, Mrs Sheila Street, wrote to Nottinghamshire County Council asking it to investigate their concerns.

In a letter to Mrs Platt the council’s cabinet member for children and young people’s services, Mrs Joyce Bosnjak, said: “I have to advise you that the county council is constrained by law from intervention and has no planning rights in these cases.

“Like yourself, we take our duty of care to children and young people seriously but, of course, we operate within the law and the most authoritative advice on health-related issues.

“I am sorry, therefore, to be unable to help you on this occasion.”

The campaigners said the evidence showed that although epidemiological studies were currently being carried out, no studies relating to emissions from phone masts and their long-term effect on children had yet been completed.

Epidemiological studies are used to pinpoint patterns of diseases.

A group member, Mrs Alison Jacobson, said the county council response was disappointing.

She said the group’s understanding of a Mobile Telecommunications and Health Research Programme report, commissioned by the Government, was that studies were needed to determine whether or not low level emissions from mobile phone masts could be responsible for adverse health effects.

“Our argument is that without these studies there is risk, however small, to the children at Lowe’s Wong schools from the low level emissions emitted by the O2 mast,” said Mrs Jacobson.

“This in turn contravenes the Children’s Act 1989 and Every Child Matters legislation which clearly states that every child has the right to be healthy and safe from perceived risk.

“So serious is this matter to us, that we believe the county council is failing in its duty of care to the children at the schools if it does not investigate further the evidence we have presented.

“Despite giving the UK government, O2, National Grid Wireless and BT numerous opportunities to direct us to this essential research we still do not have any evidence that epidemiological studies looking specifically at children have ever been undertaken or published.

“If research has not been done in relation to children how can the council justify masts being put near schools?

“That information is needed to determine if it is harmful in the long-term to children.”

No Masts In Southwell wants the heads to write again and wants the county councillor for the area, Mr Bruce Laughton, to raise the matter again.

Mrs Jacobson said scientists continued to highlight three points:

Concern that children may respond to environmental pollutants differently to adults;

Recognition that studies had identified a link between childhood leukaemia and overhead powerlines that in turn raised a concern that children could also be affected by emissions from phone masts

Concern about the lack of appropriate research in relation to children and emissions from masts.

“In relation to children, even the slightest risk should be researched and if that is not possible, then masts should not be sited near schools or where children are living,” said Mrs Jacobson.

“It is not just about planning matters, the county council has a duty of care as the local education authority.”

A spokesman for the council said: “We recognise that phone masts close to schools are a concern to parents, and some years ago set a policy to prevent the building of masts within school grounds, while we wait for any potential health affects to become clear.

“However, as long as masts are built more than 100m outside of a school, as the Government currently recommends, we have no powers to intervene as an education authority.”

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