May 16, 2005

Towering concerns


Mobilising against telcos’ plans

Matt Sun: Technology Reporter

The Daily Telegraph

Monday 16 May 2005

Hundreds of residents representing nearly a dozen Sydney communities protested yesterday against the building of mobile phone towers across the city.

As telco operators are increasing looking for sites to erect mobile phone towers, residents are worrying about radiation emissions.

More than 200 people marched along Norton St, Liechhardt, yesterday and were urged to keep up pressure against plans to build towers in their neighbourhoods.

The main target of the protest was Telstra and its plans for a tower opposite the Italian Forum site and another at Hurlstone Park.

Telstra is currently planning to build 200 new mobile towers this year to add to its network of about 2000 across the state.

Federal Opposition environment spokesman Anthony Albanese and the Greens’ Silvia Hale addressed the crowd, calling on Telstra to listen to community concerns.

Mr Albanese said people power had stopped the planned construction of the Norton St tower on June 1, 2004, and urged the crowd to continue its fight.

Ms Hale claimed Telstra could install “microcells” instead of base stations, which produce far less radiation, but said the company wouldn’t because it would cost them $100,000 instead of $5000.

But Telstra spokesman Michael Patterson said the company had a responsibility to provide mobile phone coverage and 30 microcells would have to be installed instead of one base station.

“There is a lot of misinformation about electromagnetic energy. In fact EME is a part of every day life, sources include the sun, AM/FM radio, TV and remote controls,” he said.

Mr Patterson said a baby monitor produced more EME in a house than emissions from a base station at street level.

But the Tower Action Group, led by Ian Barry to protest the Norton St tower, said other carriers installing the towers in the area would take EME above 1 per cent.

“A collation of projected EME reports from St Geourge and Sutherland shires show that EME levels at co-located sites exceed 1 per cent in 19 out of 23 proposals,” Mr Barry said.

Corporal Dimitry Kuznichenico, who was at the rally yesterday, was a soldier assigned to measure radiation levels at Kiev, about 250km from Chernobyl, after the 1986 disaster.

He was told any exposure to electromagnetic energy could cause a life threatening illness.