Outcry over cell towers
People are threatening to leave their homes over plans to put cellphone towers in their neighbourhoods.
Residents want legislation changes to stop them.
Data use through cell towers is doubling every year and Telecom says it is poised to begin installing "many, many thousands more" masts or smaller micro sites in the Auckland region alone to handle the capacity.
The revelation came at a meeting between Arkles Bay's Ferry Rd residents, Telecom, Chorus, Rodney MP Mark Mitchell and unsuccessful Auckland Council candidate Brent Robinson.
Ferry Rd occupants are concerned about news of a cell tower going up on their street.
A couple of people are ambivalent but most families are considering moving, home owners James Tayler and Bex Toghill say.
Telecom is in the process of applying for resource consent but the tower is already a sure thing, Mr Tayler says.
And they are warning other Aucklanders towers will be in their neighbourhood soon.
The Arkles Bay residents want people to demand law changes to stop it.
Mr Tayler, a helicopter pilot for Northern Emergency Services Trust, says he is not anti cellphone towers but no-one should have them in their backyard.
"I couldn't do my job if I didn't have radio communications but it's the unknown - we don't know what the potential health risks are."
For every piece of information that says the towers are safe there is one to say they are not, he says.
He knows firsthand about health risk information changing.
He is a retired nuclear engineer and used to get regular radiation testing.
"I received the safe level two years in a row and after I stopped working there they then halved the maximum level you are allowed to take. So what was safe at one point suddenly was not.
"We would like the telecommunication companies to be forced to consider a broader area to put the masts, specifically non-residential."
Policies allow the companies to put them where they want so they choose the easiest option, he says.
Mr Tayler is seriously considering moving his wife and 4-year-old son out of the area, as are other families.
Rodney MP Mark Mitchell wants to meet Auckland Council representatives as soon as possible to review cellphone tower policy.
"We need to see if there's any way we can prioritise areas so that residential areas are last on the list for cellphone towers," he says.
Ferry Rd home owner and landlord Grahame Moore was shocked when he was told by his tenant that a cell tower is likely to go up in the street.
"It's an urban area, not an industrial setting. We bought a home here because of the beauty of the location and solitude. The tower is offensive and ugly," he says.
"My long-term tenants will have to leave because they have an issue with the tower. That is an indication of how people feel about cell towers near homes.
"It jeopardises our home. It's not a piece of property, it's our home.
"I would ask that a tower gets put outside every member of Parliament's home and see what they think then."
Telecom public affairs head Conor Roberts says after reviewing all sites and discussions with Transpower about undergrounding power lines, the replacement light pole in Ferry Rd became the most preferred option.
"The World Health Organisation has concluded that there is no convincing scientific evidence that the weak radio frequency signals from base stations and wireless networks cause adverse health effects.
"TVs, cordless phones and baby monitors all release radio waves. Cell sites have to comply with radio frequency safety standards set by the Government, and our sites typically operate at less than 1 per cent of the allowed levels."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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