1st - Tamworth’s Policy - There are two major policies within Tamworth Council’s own policy statement. One is that applications will not normally be granted within 100 metres of a residential property. In this case it is approximately by my reckoning only 50 metres away. That is similar to the distance for the proposed Amington mast. The Browns Lane mast is only 20 metres away - but uses safer underground fibre-optic technology between masts - so powers levels are lower.
As councillors we are being told that we cannot enforce this 100 metres rule because of Planning Policy Guidance 8 (that is PPG8). I think we are being misled. There was an appeal and we lost it. But that is not the whole story. There was indeed an appeal. It was decided that our Council had not shown evidence that we had consulted on the policy - that is why it was lost. But we most certainly did consult. The 100 metres policy statement was in the local plan consultation process. There were no responses at all to it so far as I am aware - not from members of the public nor from the phone companies. We just failed, for some reason I which still cannot understand, to show at that particular hearing we had indeed consulted. Therefore the 100 metre policy is a perfectly valid policy and it should be defended as such in any other appeals.
Radiation Tests Inadequate. Another major Tamworth policy is that the mast should have a certificate to show it complies, under PPG8, with the guidelines issued by International Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection (That is ICNIRP). BUT the important point here is that PPG8 is only guidance - it is not the law! This is not me saying it - this is case law - a challenge to an inspectors decision under S288 in September 2003. Of course all these mast applications will comply to ICNIRP. But that guidance restricts itself only to short term exposure to the heating effects on the human body. It says nothing about longer term effects. Nor - and this is the major point - nor do they say anything about the non-thermal effects and pulse radiation coming from these masts.
Nor does it alter the fact that these guidelines were drawn up over 12 years ago in 1993. Some of the guidance is now clearly wrong - superseded by new research - yet somehow it is still referred to as gospel in planning decisions up and down the country. That cannot be good planning practice.
Human Health Concerns. There is a now great deal more research on the human health concerns. The research shows a four-fold increase in cancer within 350 Metres after long term exposure - and a 10 fold increase specifically to women. Other studies have shown significant health effects. Headaches, dizziness, depression, high blood pressure, fatigue, sleep disorder, poor concentration and cardiovascular problems. It has been shown that it makes children in particularly vulnerable to nerve cell damage and neural disorders. It shows to me at least that Tamworth's policy of 100 metres in itself is inadequate - but at least it something!
What in fact it shows is that people's - or some people's - immunity is obviously affected by such radiation. There is research to show that people with high concentrations of metal in their teeth might suffer worse. What concerns me with this particular application is that it is right next to an area already recognised officially as deprived and suffering from high levels of sickness. In other words these people's immunity generally is already low - and the fear is that this mast can only make things worse.
Reasonable Fears. Not only that but PPG8 itself directs us to the concerns of local people. Just to give a tiny sample of what is available on the internet, I have passed around some papers that I quickly pulled of the internet this afternoon. This sort of thing is available to many of us these days . People have grown wise to these masts and they - on sound research - are genuinely afraid - as shown by all the protests we have here. Those fears alone are a material planning consideration.
Government Greed. It's not our fault Government may have made billions of pounds on the sale of licences to the mobile companies and so do not want to put guidance out that might restrict their developments. But in planning terms we have a duty to protect the public .
Inadequate Consultation. And finally - very briefly - I really don't feel that sending a letter to councillors alone adequately deals with the mobile company's duty to consult with the public. So on those grounds, the 100 metres rule and health concerns I ask you to reject this application.