The role of the (previous) Waiheke Community Board regarding the phonemast issue
Recently Andrew Crawford, Dr Stuart Reuben, Ruth Gracie and I were interviewed by another TV researcher about the Waiheke phonemast protest. In June, Stuart and I were interviewed for a doco called ‘Invisible Forces,’ due to go to air in March. I mention this, because if the second doco goes ahead that will be two TV programmes (particulary, the second), that relate to and shine a light on our previous Community Board’s farsighted actions on behalf of Waihekeans and by extension, all New Zealanders.
Denise Roche, as Councillor, was delegated by the Board to write to the Prime Minister to ask him to “urgently instigate a review of the National Environmental Standards (NES) for Electromagentic Radiation and the placement of cellphone masts.” The Board made a resolution to keep lobbying Parliament to review this clearly unjust and inadequate law which was largely written by the cellphone companies themselves and acts to their benefit and to the detriment of ordinary people. Anyone doubting this, should look up “Txt ‘M” To Mobilise,” by John Landrigan, written for The Aucklander, in which the telcos openly admit their involvement in the NES.
The Community Board’s awareness of this issue began in August, 2008, when Dr Stuart Reuben presented medical evidence of a multiplication of ten times the national average rate for cancer at Netanya in Israel for two consecutive years after the installation of a cellphone transmitter. This is by no means the only study showing serious harm. Stuart is an internationally recognised medical scientist having discovered the formulae by which blood flow is measured all over the world, he is an Oxford graduate and has four degrees with Honours, a background in cardiology and was Head of Research for Pfizer in America. Stuart is more highly qualified than the doctor advising our Government.
Thanks largely to Andrew Crawford’s brilliance and sheer persistance, all three of the telcos sent management to meet with the Waiheke Community Board. The telcos were asked to take four actions; to involve the public in the process, to implement a post-installation health monitoring programme, to update the relevant standards (unchanged since 1998) and most importantly, to sign a guarantee that there will be no health effects. All four actions were declined. Disturbingly, whilst insisting phonemasts are safe the telcos emphatically refuse to sign a guarantee that there will be no harm.
After this Chairman Tony Sears said “one of the things that came out of the meeting is that communities need to put greater pressure on central Government for stronger standards.” The letter to the PM states that “It is the Waiheke Community Board’s view that the standards that are currently in place offer no protection to ordinary citizens and we would appreciate your response on how soon the National Standards can be reviewed. Members of our community also have criticisms that the independent panel of experts that were part of reviewing the existing standards are not independent and are too close to the industry.”
The Board’s letter to the PM also states that “On Waiheke our community has concerns based on the growing international evidence that there are health risks associated with living near cellsites. In addition the real estate industry is reporting that properties situated near cellphone towers are devalued by their proximity to the sites. It is unfair in the extreme that it is the neighbours that bear the consequences of living near these installations, but have no say in their placement.”
It is known that proximity to even a lampost-type phonemast automatically devalues neighbouring properties from 10 to 15%. This figure can go higher because the larger the number of masts, size or public notoriety of the cellsite the more it devalues surrounding properties.. Marine 3G cellsites transmit for up to 30kms, the older, 2G versions transmitted for up to 11 kms. The current proliferation and closeness of 3G phonemasts is purely profit-driven, but as the long term effects of EMR come to light, it seems our children will be the ones to pay.