Uproar over tower plans

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Bushman’s cell mast will be of ‘risk to health’

RESIDENTS of Bushman’s River Mouth are concerned that the municipality plans to erect a cell tower in a residential area that is close to a school, claiming that the microwave signals from the tower could present a serious health risk.

Resident and local businessman John Butt alerted Talk of the Town to a letter he received from the municipality informing him of an amendment to the town planning scheme proposing “the erection of a 25m high cellular communication mast and associated infrastructure” on a plot close to his business and above a school.

The form allows the recipient to either accede – or object – to the erection of the cell tower. “It is not right,” Butt said. “We do not yet understand the effects on health, and we should not be erecting cell towers close to schools or in residential areas.”

Butt said that it was not simply the aesthetics of the area that would be affected, but was more concerned about the effects on health – including the possibility of neurological illnesses and cancers.

TotT first reported on the potential dangers of cell tower radiation (UTMS or Universal Mobile Telecommunications Service) in 2011, when the late Anneliese Cowley, reported she had treated several residents in the vicinity of the tower in Stewart Road for symptoms such as nausea, headaches, lethargy, fatigue and depression.

Cowley, who was a respected complementary health and healing practitioner, had noticed that many of her patients who lived in the general vicinity of the tower were suffering from a variety of symptoms of RF (radio frequency) exposure.

For the Stewart Road tower, Cape Town company Electromagnetic Software Systems (EMSS) was asked to measure the radiation emitted by the tower. The company duly sent out two of its RF surveyors to analyse the signals and to compile a report. However, the results of this report were never made public. Then, in June last year, another cellphone tower was proposed, this time at the Royal Port Alfred Golf Course.

Following private meetings at the club, and considerable pressure from the public, the plan to erect a cell tower at the golf course was abandoned. However, the problem of cellular communication in the area remains a problem.

Several towers already exist in the area, and most cell towers are located on farmland well away from residential areas. However, to blanket the area for cellular communication, and to accommodate the vast increase in cellular activity, more towers are required.

The Bushman’s cell tower is planned to be erected on erf 978 at Bushman’s River Mouth, and TotT attempted to contact the owner of the property, John Bamber, but could not locate him to answer questions regarding the tower being erected on his property.

Municipal spokesman Cecil Mbolekwa said: “This is the owner’s initiative, not the municipality. “[The owner is not using] any municipal land, [and he] has confirmation from the department of economic development, environmental affairs and tourism.”

As to the concerns over cell tower radiation, Mbolekwa said: “There is no proven study in that regard, we as the municipality will treat this application as any other application.”

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