Parents fight against mobile phone mast near school
11 May 2016 – “UTV Ireland”, by the Staff in Dublin
Concerned parents and local residents are protesting against plans to erect a mobile phone mast near a primary school in south Dublin
Vodafone have applied for planning permission to install a mast on the roof of Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology (IADT) which is close to Monkstown Educate Together National School in Dublin.
A campaign against the plan has been launched by opposing parents and locals, including folk singer Christy Moore, who say they will “use every legal means possible” to get the mobile phone company to relocate the mast.
The parents’ group claim the mast will put 438 young children, teachers and the wider parent community at risk as the school “falls within the beam of maximum intensity”.
Spokesperson for the group Brian Healy explained: “There is mounting scientific evidence across many countries and agencies with regard to the safe placement of masts away from schools, with countries such as New Zealand, Sweden, Italy, Australia and parts of the US banning them from such areas.
“Questions have been raised whether placing mobile phone towers so close to a school where young children, and indeed their teachers, are continuously present for at least seven hours-a-day, is putting them in potential danger.
“It was once felt that the effects of cigarette smoking and second-hand smoke exposure was inconclusive. The consequences are now well known – too late for many children exposed to second-hand smoke.”
A report from the Department of Environment conducted in 2007 concluded that the majority scientific opinion was that “no adverse short or long-term effects have been demonstrated from exposure to electromagnetic fields at levels below the limits recommended by the International Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection (ICNIRP).”
However the parents say the ICNIRP guidelines are “out of date” and do not cover “long-term low-level exposure to microwaves” which they claim can cause DNA damage potentially leading to cancers; signal pulsing causing or worsening epilepsy; tinnitus and hearing problems; and headaches.
In response to the concerns, a spokesperson for Vodafone Ireland said: “We would like to assure you that we adhere to all planning and regulation guidelines and have followed due process in relation to Monkstown Educate Together National School at all stages of the planning process, including consultation with the school.
“Dun Laoghaire Rathdown initially granted the planning application and we will continue to work closely with the authorities in relation to the site.
“The need for the mast came about because of an increase in demand, both from local businesses and new housing developments.
“An increase in coverage was found to be needed to ensure that all local customers could access the services they rely on.”
The parents’ group have submitted an appeal to An Bord Pleanála over planning permission for the mast, and are calling on the government to strengthen existing legislation.