Mast ‘would be too close’

2014-04-08 00:00

UMHLANGA Manors residents are unhappy with cellphone network provider MTN’s plan to erect a 25-metre-high cellphone mast less than 15 metres away from the nearest homes in the complex.

The plan was brought to the attention of the area’s homeowners’ forum by MTN three weeks ago. The Witness has had sight of copies of the e-mails sent to the forum.

The mast is planned on a municipal-owned plot of land near Harrowgate, one of 16 complexes that make up Umhlanga Manors.

Forum chairperson Richard Edwards said, “That notification by way of an e-mail gave the impression that the company had already discussed this with council. We believe that council should have consulted with us first after receiving the proposal from the company as this has health risks.”

Edwards said that at a recent meeting of residents it was clear everyone was unhappy about the proposed mast.

“Nobody wants it because of a number of concerns,” said Edwards. “I have established that council gave MTN a lease agreement which the latter has not signed.”

Residents are concerned that sea views will be obstructed and about noise from the generator that forms part of the mast construction.

“I informed the company that the residents find it preposterous that they [the company] deem it acceptable to position a mast emitting potentially harmful electromagnetic radiation exposure, as well as a noisy generator, 15 metres from residents’ homes.”

Dr Abdel Goad, a local resident, said the MTN tower will constitute a health hazard to those living in close proximity to the installation.

“Several studies have shown that being in close proximity of a cellphone tower results in several heath problems from sleeping disorders to cancer,” said Goad.

“The international recommendation is to keep such towers at a minimum of 300 metres away from homes. Such an installation will result not only in health hazard but also in decreasing the value of our properties.”

Area DA councillor Heinz de Boer said he was opposed to the mast, “Its proposed site is extremely close to the nearby homes and would create an undue eyesore and subject them to potential harmful radio waves.”

MTNs spokesperson Mamello Raborifi said the cellphone company has an ongoing programme to monitor exposure levels at base station sites and to ensure no member of the public is exposed to radio frequency fields that exceed internationally accepted health and safety guidelines.

“The plan is to have the mast up this year, but the process will depend on obtaining the land use consent, and the building plan approval from eThekwini Municipality,” she said.

Thabo Mofokeng, municipal spokesperson, said there was no application for the mast construction in Umhlanga Manors.

“The forum indicated that they were approached by MTN indicating their intention,” said Mofokeng.

“We informed them that no plans have been submitted for approval of the mast.”

Asked if the municipality were aware of MTN’s intention to construct a mast in the area, Mofokeng said, “The important point is that there is no application submitted for the mast.”

He would not be drawn into confirming whether the municipality was aware of the planned mast.

Attempts to get clarity on the lease application from MTN were unsuccessful.

Yesterday the company requested questions via e-mail. These were sent but had not been responded to by the time of going to press.

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