Locals oppose mast

2018-06-05 06:00
Residents took to the streets last month to voice their concerns about the cellphone mast.

Residents took to the streets last month to voice their concerns about the cellphone mast.

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Several residents living near a Dutch Reformed church are unhappy about the proposed cell mast installation at the premises of the church.

Residents argue that the church is in the middle of the residential area and the mast would have a negative impact on their property value as well as their health.

They allege that the church has been inconsiderate and ignored the interests of the community.

According to resident Jerome Kiley, locals voiced their objection at a meeting held between them, the church, Atlas Towers – which will be installing the tower and mas t – and the City of Cape Town’s Municipal Planning Tribunal (MPT) on Tuesday 17 April.

“Despite the large number of objections and the lack of proof supplied by the applicant, the only issue considered in any depth was the fact that the mast would be out of the character of the neighbourhood and thus approved with a reduction to 15m in height and be incorporated into the architecture of the building.

“The proposed mast is in the middle of a well-established residential area, while there are other more suitable sites where the mast would have a much lesser impact, most notably the graveyard and sports grounds in Victoria Road.

“[There are] concerns regarding the possible health issues associated with the mast given that current evidence is not conclusive, with a growing body of evidence indicating health risks associated with close proximity of cellphone masts.”

Kiley says the City determined that 80% of the residents were directly affected. There are however currently seven masts within the Plumstead area within a radius of 1000m of the proposed site.

Another resident, Christine Bell, says the church and company based their application on the argument that there were dropped calls by the networks in the area. At the same time, one of the concerned residents contacted the cellphone companies regarding dropped calls in the areas.

Although there is a problem in this regard, she says there is a marked growth in the installation of fibre in the area which is more than adequate to serve any growth in the need for data.

It is reported that after doing their own research about the installation of the tower, residents attempted to address their concerns directly with the church but to no avail.

Church representative Almaree Kline says: “Atlas Towers approached the church council regarding a request they had received for the erecting of additional cell mast/s in the area to boost the cellphone and Wi-Fi signals. In light of evolving technology, we did not have any objections and were assured that before anything was erected, the neighbours would be given time to lodge complains with the City, which is what happened. The church sees the opportunity as a win-win for both parties. The church will be receiving much-needed additional funding to spread the Word of God and the neighbours will be receiving the benefits of better cell and Wi-Fi reception.”

Contrary to the residents’ concerns, Kline says property value would increase as there would be no “dead” spots regarding cellphone and Wi-Fi connectivity.

Wian von Solms of Atlas Towers says they have followed the correct procedures and authorities have “confirmed that they are satisfied that the health of the general public is not being compromised by their exposure to the microwave emissions of cellular base stations, because at present no confirmed scientific evidence exists that would indicate any hazard to human health in situations that members of the public would typically find themselves in”.

“There is no evidence to suggest that property values will decrease.

“Public participation took place and the process was driven by the City,” he explains­.

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