News for Canary Islands

Fury erupts over Tenerife mobile phone masts
Canary Islands Created: 26 Sep 2008
On the one hand, the mobile phone companies say they are vital to provide their millions of customers with the best possible service - On the other, residents living near mast sites say they are a health hazard and could lead to cancer, including leukaemia in children.
Now, the whole mobile phone mast debate is set to ignite again in Tenerife.
National newspapers are reporting that the government of the Canary Islands is to draw up new legislation which allows local authorities to set aside land for mobile phone masts.
No sites have yet been announced but it is being suggested that many will be in the south of Tenerife and the area of Los Gigantes is rumoured to be one of them.
Not surprisingly, local people are already up in arms and pledging strong opposition. And at least one anti-mast protest group says it will challenge any new legislation because of what they say is the unproven risk to peopleís health.
The islandsí three mobile phone companies have welcomed the government announcement. They say mast applications are being turned down by city councils which means the service they provide to customers is not good enough and does not meet demand. Putting up new masts will rectify the situation.
But could the two sides ever compromise or meet half way? The answer is almost certainly no. You either believe mobile phone masts can and do emit harmful electromagnetic radiation or you consider them safe and substantially less risky than other health hazards faced in our everyday life.
Scientists certainly have different views. Some say there might well be a link but no study has yet to prove this conclusively. Others say a definite pattern would have shown itself by now as mobile phone masts have been around for some 20 years.
Perhaps the most emotive of applications concerns schools and, in Britain, it has been known for worried parents to take to the streets with placards to show their opposition. Yet itís interesting to see how many young children are allowed mobile phones. And here in Spain, a new study has shown that half of kids aged between six and eleven have their own mobile and for the age group of 12 to 14, that figure soars to 82 per cent. How will that sit with the not in my back yard argument?
Also very emotive is the siting of mobile phone masts on churches, particularly as the the income from their installation can pay towards their restoration and upkeep. In Guildford, the support pole on the golden angel weathervane is actually a mobile phone mast. In return for the site, the company paid for the golden angel to be regilded. Does a certain phrase in the Bible not come to mind?
Similarly, new mobile masts are being installed elsewhere in Britain in disguise. Not to try and get away with their siting but because environmentalists are also complaining about their visual intrusion. One company even makes them to look like chimneys, complete with soot and dirt. Once upon a time, they had to be 30m tall, now the requirement is around 8m.
Itís estimated that in the last 30 years, there have been about 25,000 articles written about the effect of mobile phone masts on peopleís health, whether it be the link with cancer or leukaemia or headaches, skin rashes or tiredness.
One of the most bizarre pieces of research was allegedly carried out in the Netherlands in 2005 when a canary was put in a cage near a mobile phone mast. Apparently, it did not sing for eight months and picked at its skin and lost all its feathers. But when protection was given, it flourished and began to trill again. Its owner also suffered ill health but felt substantially better when ever he was away from his home for a prolonged period. Ironically, scientists were suggesting that schools might like to adopt a similar project - hopefully, it was tongue in cheek.
Other studies, including in Spain and in Belgium, suggest mobile phone masts are responsible for diminishing bee colonies and the loss of the sparrow population. And itís said that migrating birds in a formation split into two when approaching a mast.
One thingís for sure. Whatever the rights or the wrongs, the mobile phone mast debate is going to run and run and there is going to be an awful lot of concern voiced in Tenerife. RS
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Source: Tenerife News, 25 Sep 2008

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