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Towering concerns -

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(generated from captions) another. Michael Lewis,

pleasure to have you on the

program. Thank you very much. Thanks for having me. In

every Australian state there

are currently battles under way

to stop the construction of mobile phone towers near

schools. Just this morning a

meeting was held in the Sydney

suburb of Double Bay to plan strategy against a tower that Optus wants to erect about 100m from a primary school. Two bills before Federal Parliament

aim to give communities more

say about where the towers can

be installed. Communities are worried about electromagnetic radiation, even though the science surrounding the

long-term risks from exposure

is hotly contested. Martin

Cuddihy reports.

So many of us use them every

day. Smart phones and tablet computers keep people connected to each endless Streep of news, entertainment and opinion.

After sing more, Australia has

more smart phones per capita than anywhere else in the world In

world In fact, in Australia we

see mobile data traffic doubling

doubling every 9 to 12 months. Growing demand for

network capacity means there is

a swag of infrastructure needed

to keep people on the phone and online. Towers are the spine of

this interconnected web N June,

the World Health Organisation fields could possibly cause

cancer, but conversely, it also

states there is no convincing

scientific evidence that weak

signals from bay stations cause adverse health effects. I

really don't think that there are any risks of the science

can never be 100% sure , of

course, but we don't have any

research pointing to it being a

problem. Charnt

chant. Nevertheless, across

Australia dozens of communities

have been involved in campaigns

to either move mobile phone towers or scrap them altogether, leading one

campaign in Tasmania is Anthea

Hopkins I think the fact that

this is sitting in a high density residential area as

well, a lot of people with

young children that will have

24-hour exposure that there is just a

just a lot of feeling in the

community that there would be a

better place for a tower. Initially, two telcos

wanted to put a tower on top of

a supermarket in the Hobart

suburb of Sandy Bay. Telstra

pulled out after the community

expressed its concern, but

Optus signs are still on the

proposed site, although the telco hold and alternatives are being looked at. We looked at. We mentioned

aesthetics were one of the

reasons why locals were

objecting to the tower. Is this simply a simply a case of not in my

backyard No, I don't think it

is a case of not in my backyard

at all. Anthea Hopkins says she

uses a smart phone herself and

says she couldn't do without

it, but that's not the issue It

is that there is proper community consultation.

The legislation allows

efficient and effective deployment infrastructure.Ist's got the balance right. Under the

telecommunications Act, a telco

has the power to install a

tower on private land if it's

classified as a low impact facility. Telcos do this by

issuing a land activity access

notice, and then following an

industry code of practice. This code, by our estimatation,

results in around five times

more consultation than would normally happen through a

development application in a

council. It is a very important

code, it's just been readvised

and part of the revision consultation There is still a

lot of anger in this community

over the way that Telstra, the

telco at the time conducted

themselves. In the inner Brisbane suburb of Bardon,

Sandra Boland stopped the

installation of a phone tower

about 100m from a local primary

school. The community took

Telstra to court. We know that

the science community is very

much divided and there are a

lot of unanswered questions about the long-term health

effects of this kind of EME. Both Optus and Telstra

were happy to let the industry

representative do the talking

for them Sometimes proposals

are withdrawn based on

community concerns, so thera

a high level of dialogue that

goes on here. Most community concerns centre around long-term health

effects because towers

constantly emit a low level of electromagnetic radiation. The

Australian radiation protection

and nuclear safety agency and nuclear safety agency or

SRPNSA is the Government body that sets the North standard.

One critic is Don Maisch. He recently completed a PhD that

examined the radiation

standards. When you try to

relie upon standards to give an

assurance of safety, it aet not. There He believes the

radiation is affecting people

at a cellular level. Not all

the radiation can be attributed

to this to you ber, - tower, but but when we went up a flight of

stairs,ed readings were as much

as six times higher. The

general thrust of the study is showing that there is an

effect. I mean, we recently had

the international agency for

research on cancer come up and

classify radio frequency as a

possible human carcinogen.

In terms of health we've got

good reason to think there is not a problem. Until July,

Professor Rodney Croft was Professor Rodney Croft was the manage pg Director. Any number

of studies that do show ap I do

have them available that the chronic exposure, that

long-term exposure which is not

in the standards can have

adverse effect on health.

Where there has been a study

suggesting that there may be a

problem, it's then been

followed up. People have tested

it, tried to find the same

results, and they consistently

fail to do that. The towers

typically operate at levels the health standards set by the World Health Organisation, but

with communities still battling

towers in every State, the

issue is unlikely to disappear

any time soon. Martin Cuddihy

reporting. That's the program for tonight. 'Foreign

Correspondent' is next with its

final episode of 2011. The team