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Phone mast petition lodged by Rutherglen and Cambuslang councillors gains support in Scottish Parliament

Posted by seumasach on March 20, 2012

Rutherglen Reformer

14th May, 2012

A PETITION lodged by two councillors from Rutherglen and Cambuslang to review conditions for granting phone mast applications has been backed by a committee at the Scottish Parliament.

Councillor Eileen Baxendale, councillor David Baillie, council candidate Robert Brown and Dr Keith Baxendale, a retired neurophysiologist, lodged the petition on February 7.

It was considered by the Public Petitions Committee at its meeting on Tuesday March 6 in Holyrood.

The remit of the Public Petitions Committee is to decide what action should be taken on admissible public petitions. The committee is also responsible for deciding, in cases of dispute, whether a public petition is admissible.

The petition lodged calls on the Scottish Government: “to undertake an independent review of current scientific evidence in respect of possible health risks to young children from the siting of telecommunications masts near residential property, schools and children’s nurseries.”

The group’s concerns come after a fact sheet published by the World Health Organisation in May last year stated: “IARC (International Agency for Research on Cancer) has classified radio frequency electromagnetic fields as possibly carcinogenic to humans (Group 2B).”

The committee agreed to ask Scottish ministers for comment on the position and it will be considered further when this comes in. Committee members were keen to have a fresh look at the issue, and also expressed concerns about the lack of a full data base of the location of masts.

The petition was lodged following concerns about the limited powers of the local planning committees over the siting of phone masts in a number of contentious applications in Rutherglen and Cambuslang.

Councillor Eileen Baxendale attended the meeting in Edinburgh with her husband.

She said: “I was very pleased at the support the petition received from all parties in the petitions committee.

“I have become increasingly concerned at the limited powers the Council Planning Committee have to take account of wider health issues when considering mobile phone mast planning applications. Many local people are also worried that their concerns cannot properly be taken on board.

“The current Planning Guidance is based on the Stewart Report which is now 12-years-ago. During that time, things have moved on.

“We have the new generation of much more powerful mobile phone technology and an enormous growth in mobile phone ownership and in the number of masts.

“Most significantly, as of last May the World Health Organisation now classify radiofrequency electromagnetic fields used in mobile phone technology as ‘possibly carcinogenic to humans’.

“All this calls for a precautionary approach, particularly when phone masts are suggested to be sited near schools. The Council of Europe have called for such an approach in relation to phone masts, and a number of other countries – New Zealand, Australia, Sweden, Italy and parts of the United States – have banned phone masts near schools.”

Dr. Keith Baxendale, who is a retired neurophysiologist, said: “I was pleased to see the committee were clear about the need to review the current scientific knowledge about the possible health risks from phone masts for growing children.”

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