Select Committee on Trade and Industry Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 36 - 39)




  36. Good morning. Please would you introduce yourselves?

  (Ms Mathew) I am Julie Mathew from Mast Action UK.
  (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 values?
  (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.

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