Tuesday, 18 June 2013

2 Degrees tower to go ahead despite local opposition ~ protest action planned for 19th June 2013

Local residents strongly object to the installation of a twelve metre cell phone tower on land at the Brighton end of Scroggs Hill Road.  The placard pictured below neatly conveys local sentiment of this unwelcome invasion of a small suburban street.  The street view shown is of the actual street where the tower is expected to go up:

My understanding is that the site is owned by the Dunedin City Council which gave permission without informing residents - as it was not required to do so.  It is a great pity that there always seems to have to be a rule in place for ordinary people to be treated with a modicum of respect.  In this case there wasn't a rule, so the basic courtesy of engaging with ratepayers and residents was not considered necessary.  If this is indeed the case it was a poor show on the part of our Council!

When locals did find out about it heated opposition developed.  Concerns were expressed at a community meeting on the 29th April, after which 2 Degrees went away to reconsider its plans.  It was a great disappointment that the telecommunications company did not change its position as a result.  

Residents object to the cell phone tower on three grounds: the aesthetics of the tower, potential health risks, and that this use of the site would ''rule out road improvements on that corner''.  

It certainly is a very beautiful location with panoramic views.  Here is the view looking north towards Dunedin:

The photograph below shows the site from the main road below.  It can be seen on the skyline directly above the car:

That really is one very tight as well as narrow hairpin bend and much in need of being re-engineered:

In recent months a huge amounts of money has been spent on upgrading the road beyond this point where it covers several kilometres of farmland.  It is surprising that this short stretch of road at the Brighton end was not included.  It would have been logical, and certainly carries far more traffic!

The long term health risks of the electromagnetic radiation associated with cell phone towers and their usage is documented in this Wikipedia article:
Here is a paragraph which relates to cell phone towers:
Experts consulted by France considered it was mandatory that main antenna axis not to be directly in front of a living place at a distance shorter than 100 metres.[74] This recommendation was modified in 2003[75] to say that antennas located within a 100-metre radius of primary schools or childcare facilities should be better integrated into the cityscape and was not included in a 2005 expert report.[76]
Why, oh why has this location even been considered, given the relatively small concentration of residences so close by in what is an essentially rural setting?  

On the basis of the information above I would not want to be living in this property opposite the site, which I have always greatly admired.  Even without that literature I would be very uncomfortable living so close by. 

Also in the same article a lawsuit about a cell phone tower in France is cited, in which the more common burden of proof was placed on the other foot:  

Harm from such installations might not yet be conclusively proved, but neither had it been disproved.  This is the crux of the matter.

French High Court ruling against telecom company

In February 2009 the telecom company Bouygues Telecom was ordered to take down a mobile phone mast due to uncertainty about its effect on health. Residents in the commune Charbonnières in the Rhône department had sued the company claiming adverse health effects from the radiation emitted by the 19 meter tall antenna.[84] The milestone ruling by the Versailles Court of Appeal reversed the burden of proof which is usual in such cases by emphasizing the extreme divergence between different countries in assessing safe limits for such radiation. The court stated that, "Considering that, while the reality of the risk remains hypothetical, it becomes clear from reading the contributions and scientific publications produced in debate and the divergent legislative positions taken in various countries, that uncertainty over the harmlessness of exposure to the waves emitted by relay antennas persists and can be considered serious and reasonable".[85]
I reject the installation on one further count: this big company is riding roughshod over locals in the face of outcry.  If this tower goes ahead 2 Degrees will lose my business.  How dare these out-of-towners come in here and act as if they own the place!  We live here and we don't want it.  We already have cell phone coverage in the area.  It may be a bit patchy, but that doesn't bother me one bit.  We are managing just fine as we are.

Protest action is planned for today, Wednesday the 19th June at 4pm.  Those who want to show their opposition can meet at the site at 4pm. Protesters are encouraged to come a little earlier if possible.  Billboard welcome.  As we used to say when I was young (!) Be there or be square!

News articles published in the Otago Daily Times:

Later note ~ 20th June 2013:
The protest meeting was heartening: about sixty of us turned up in the wind and rain to make our position clear.  Let's hope this clears the heads of 2 Degrees administrators.

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