Residents clash on cell mast

2018-02-06 06:00

Plumstead residents have been left divided following an application to have a cellphone mast erected at a church in Ophir Road.

The application for the rezoning of erf 71719 was submitted in September last year on behalf of Atlas Tower.

The current zoning of the property is Single Residential Zone 1 and the applicants want it rezoned to a Utility Zone in order to accommodate the proposed free-standing cellphone mast.

If allowed, the base will be a 25m tree-type mast, with three by three sector antennas and microwave dishes attached to the mast, three equipment containers, and a 2.4m high palisade fence.

The total ground coverage of the mast will be 64m².

Some residents have welcomed the application, while others have been left fuming that they don’t want a cellphone mast on their doorstep, as it will open the door for diseases associated with cellphone masts.

A resident posted on social media a letter on the application, offering assistance for residents wishing to object to the application. Residents took to the post to air either their satisfaction or dissatisfaction at having a mast.

Lollie Forbes commented on the post, saying: “It’s about time. I am so sick of internet problems and poor phone reception, I honestly do not even own a cellphone anymore. There is no purpose since a decent conversation cannot be held, and that is on the odd occasion that the phone even rings. People wonder why my phone’s always off, but it’s not off, the reception is so poor the call does not even connect. I’m wasting data bundles for internet usage, which as we all know expire after one to two months, because I can’t get decent reception to even access internet. My question is: What on earth took someone so long to do this?”

Another resident, Kevin Bodenham, clearly objected to the proposed cellphone mast: “There have been many studies done by heavily invested, industrial companies to provide evidence that there is no danger posed to human or animal life by the erection (and effects thereof) of these monstrosities called cellular masts. Even the extent to which they have gone, in order to disguise these masts as trees in an attempt to fool the population by creating the mindset that what their eyes don’t really see can’t be bad for them, indicates that they acknowledge there is a problem ...”.

Adding to his comments, Bodenham said that his mother was in perfect health until a cellphone mast was erected close to her home. “There were no symptoms with my mom, perfect health, until a tower went up near her – then boom ... brain cancer and rapid deterioration until her all too soon passing.”

For many the issue of cellphone masts in residential areas is a touchy subject. Trudy Coetzer says cellphone reception is perfectly fine without the tower. “To erect an artificial tree with antennas in a mostly single-story residential area, no matter how pretty they make it look, will stand out like a sore thumb, never mind the issues we already have with people arriving for functions and blocking driveways. It’s not so much about surveying the area but more to do with the revenue that will be received,” she says.

According to the application, a portion addressing health concerns says there has been increasing public concern about health risks associated with cellular communication. The application reads: “Current scientific research is yet to produce conclusive evidence suggesting adverse health effects associated with, working with or living close to cellular technology. Although antennae and base stations emit radio waves, their frequency is not considered high enough to pose a health risk. Antennae mounted on towers, masts or any other structures are usually substantially elevated above ground level, and as radio waves are emitted at this level thereby further reducing the amount of radiation at ground level. Furthermore, regular tests regarding the compliance to safety regulations add to reducing the health risk.”

Residents who wish to object to this application have until Thursday (8 February) to do so.V For enquiries, contact Tumelo Manoko at Plumstead Council Office on 021 444 9543 or email Tumelo Kingsley.Manoko@capetown.gov.za.

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