Over the weekend we became aware of a development application to build another mobile phone base station with 11 antennas in the bush next to the ACTEW substation in Ainslie near the corner of Chisholm and Duffy Streets, just 90 metres away from residences and around 500 metres away from Baker Gardens Pre-school and Campbell High School.
The base station’s proposed location would be too close to residences, with several located within 100 metres. Those residences in close proximity include several that are occupied by the elderly or young children, who would be subject to continuous exposure to electromagnetic radiation.
According to the application, there would be an almost seven fold increase in the electromagnetic radiation produced from mobile phone base stations at the location. While this is already a very significant increase, electromagnetic radiation from the mobile phone base stations cannot be considered in isolation. The applicant ignores the fact that the electromagnetic radiation from the base stations would be additional to electromagnetic radiation from ACTEW’s substation and overhead high voltage transmission power lines.
It is still too early to definitively determine whether the electromagnetic radiation from the proposed base station would or would not pose a health risk. Mobile phone technology is very new and it continues to evolve and be rolled out at a rapid pace. There are no long term studies into the effects of emissions or radiation from the 3G network stations. There are no guarantees that mobile phone base stations will not have adverse health impacts on those living or working near to them who face continuous long-term exposure to electromagnetic radiation. It is important to note here that children absorb radiation at a much higher rate than adults.
Despite reassurances from mobile phone providers, APANSA and the WHO, there is considerable evidence from studies published in reputable scientific and medical journals that suggest that residents living within 500 metres of mobile phone base stations can suffer from significant adverse health impacts, including higher incidence of cancers and neurological effects including dizziness, headaches, memory loss, depression, irritability, chronic fatigue, sleep disruption, lowered libido and skin problems. The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC 2011) found that radiofrequency electromagnetic fields are “possibly carcinogenic to humans”.
The base station proposal would further diminish the environmental integrity and natural heritage values of the Mount Ainslie Nature Reserve and possibly have negative health impacts on the large population of Eastern Grey Kangaroos living in close proximity to the proposed location.
The community consultation process has been inadequate. SSMC has failed to advise or consult directly with the community, particularly those residents in close proximity to the proposed location, Ainslie Village, the schools in the neighbourhood or the CSIRO. The timing of the public notification through ACTPLA and any newspaper advertising has been unfair as the period coincided with the summer holiday period, meaning that many residents living close to the proposed location have been away on holiday and are therefore unaware of the proposal. We only discovered the development application by accident when looking on ACTPLA’s website for unrelated information.
While we recognise the socio-economic benefits that improved mobile phone services would offer to Ainslie and neighbouring suburbs, we are opposed to the construction of a base station at the proposed location given the potential health impacts on residents living in close proximity. The lack of consensus in the scientific and medical community on the potential for adverse health impacts, and the need for ongoing research suggests that the Precautionary Principle should be applied and mobile phone base stations should be located in the most sensible locations. There are some locations, such as those close to residential properties, which are simply unsuitable for base stations.
The application is open for comments until tomorrow 29 January.
If you are concerned about the proposal’s potential impact the community, please feel free to draw from the above to submit comments to ACTPLA as outlined below.
Development Application: 201324530
Address: NO ADDRESS
Block: 12 Section: 100
Proposal: PUBLIC WORKS-COMMUNICATIONS FACILITY-ALTERATION-ADDITION. Proposed upgrade of existing mobile telecommunications facility and addition of a new monopole.