Examination of Witnesses (Questions 36
TUESDAY 13 MARCH 2001
36. Good morning. Please would you introduce
(Ms Mathew) I am Julie Mathew from Mast
(Ms Mangat) I am Christine Mangat, Joint Co-ordinator
with Mast Action UK.
(Mr Meyer) I am Alan Meyer. I am a lawyer and I am
Legal Director of Mast Action UK, having previously been involved
in NIFATT in Northern Ireland.
37. Can you tell us who you are? What is Mast
Action UK? How did it come about? Who do you represent?
(Ms Mangat) Originally Mast Action UK was Mast-Free
Schools. That organisation began in 1995. It was a response to
the situation of telecommunication masts being installed in schools
without parents' permission and without notification of local
residents. However, the membership grew and in order that we represented
more comprehensively the membership, which was not confined to
concerns of parents and schools, we decided to relaunch in 2000
in the House of Commons as Mast Action UK.
38. How did it start? We have had evidence this
morning that suggests that at best all we are talking about is
precautionary principles. At best we are talking about something
that has mushroomed in the past couple of years. Why did it start
in 1995? Why were you frightened in 1995 when there were hardly
any masts, hardly any mobile phones and no real evidence to suggest
that there was any risk at all?
(Ms Mathew) The particular problem in 1995 was that
a base station was erected on the field of our school, 40 metres
from the classrooms and 70 metres from most of our homes. We were
not consulted about that. In 1995 that was generally happening
across the country. People were given no choice about whether
they wanted a mast on school property. That was why the campaign
began in 1995. This is a relatively new technology. There is really
no research on the effects for people, and especially children,
living within the main beams of the masts for 24 hours a day,
and in our case for the past five years. The Department of Health
official line appears to be, "We cannot say it is safe".
We do not know about levels below the national guidelines. The
scientific community still appears to be unsure, hence the Department
of Health giving £7 million to look into it. Despite that,
they expect people to accept masts in their children's schools
or 50 metres from a child's bedroom window. That appears to be
a real problem.
39. I take it you are concerned about the health
factors and not so much the visual amenity impact or loss of property
(Ms Mathew) For the majority of groups that we represent
it is the health concern and the uncertainty. Bearing in mind
the Government's dealings with matters such as BSE, asbestos,
smoking and power lines, people are not sure whether masts are
safe. The Government do not appear to be sure that they are safe,
but we have no choice as to whether we are continually exposed
to radiation from a mast 24 hours a day.