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Environment Cellph site risk -action
Ministry Environment cell site proposal
Action alert The Ministry for the Environment is proposing to remove the community’s right to object to the construction of new cell sites and new technologies such as Wi-Fi base stations on telephone poles and street lights around New Zealand, even if they are located right next to residential areas or schools. If you object to this proposal, please make a submission by 10 August 2007. See below for further information. Background The Ministry for the Environment has released a discussion document supporting a proposal by the Telecommunications Industry Reference Group to allow telecommunications companies to attach cell phone and wireless internet antennas, known as Wi-Fi networks, to existing power poles and street lights all over New Zealand as of right without having to consult with the community first or get community consent. Under their proposal, companies will no longer need to apply for resource consent as they are required to do at present to build new cell towers or networks, providing they are attached to a power pole or street light and are located on road reserve. While the definition of road reserve is legally unclear, it effectively includes the land on which the road lies and the verge area that extends to adjacent property boundaries. There are huge swathes of road reserve all around New Zealand—many located right next to houses and schools and pre-schools. The only condition they propose to set is a requirement that the radio-frequencies emitted by these new technologies are within the existing (extremely high) national standard on electromagnetic radiation. But they do not explain who would monitor them to ensure they were below the standard. Nor do they appear to take any consideration of the potential health effects of allowing for the potential increase in radio frequency radiation all over New Zealand. The Ministry for the Environment’s discussion document refers, on the one hand, to World Health Organisation advice that “none of the recent reviews have concluded that exposure to the radio-frequency fields from mobile phones or their base stations cause any adverse health consequence”, but on the other hand acknowledges that the World Health Organisation has also advised that “there are gaps in our knowledge that have been identified for further research to better assess health risks”. In fact, there is evidence suggesting that new technologies such as Wi-Fi may produce adverse health effects, and many credible scientists have raised concerns about their impact on human health and the lack of long term studies into their safety. Professor Ollie Johansson of the Karolinska Institute of Sweden has concerns about the possible health effects of such radiation: "If you look in the literature, you have a large number of various effects like chromosome damage; you have impact on the concentration capacity and decrease in short term memory, increases in the number of cancer incidences." Another scientist, Dr Gerd Oberfeld, from Salzburg says that: "If you go into the data you can see a very clear picture - it is like a puzzle and everything fits together from DNA break ups to the animal studies and up to the epidemiological evidence; that shows for example increased symptoms as well as increased cancer rates.” A recent investigation into radio frequency radiation levels in the United Kingdom, conducted by BBC current affairs programme Panorama, found that in some schools radio frequency radiation levels from Wi-Fi are up to three times the level found in the main beam of intensity from mobile phone masts. But the Ministry for the Environment’s discussion document ignores any such concerns, and effectively proposes to allow the installation of these new technologies all over New Zealand, without requiring any investigation of their potential long term effects on our health. In the absence of any long term studies on their safety, or of their potential health effects, the Green party believes the government must take a precautionary approach, and not give a blanket exemption for them to be constructed without local community consent. If you have concerns, please send in a submission to the Ministry for the Environment: Any person can make a submission on the proposed standard. Please include the following information: 1. your name and postal address, phone number, fax number and email address (if applicable) 2. the title of the proposed standards you are making the submission about 3. whether you support or oppose the standards 4. your submission, with reasons for your views 5. any changes you would like made to the standards 6. the decision you wish the Minister for the Environment to make. You must forward your submission to Ministry for the Environment, PO Box 10362, Wellington, or by email to standards@mfe.govt.nz , in time to be received no later than 5.00pm on 10 August 2007. For a copy of the discussion document on the proposed standard please go to www.mfe.govt.nz Sue Kedgley MP Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand Room 8.06 Bowen House Parliament Buildings, Wellington Ph: 04-470-6717 Fax: 04-472-6003 Email: sue.kedgley@parliament.govt.nz