Mast debate grips LMH

LMH’s JCR is to hold a referendum on whether to allow a
mobile phone mast to be built in the College. The proposal from T-mobile would see an antenna constructed on
top of the College’s Sutherland building. If JCR members
approve the plans they will receive £4,000 a year, while the MCR
and SCR will each receive £2,000. The controversial offer has
provoked extensive and bitter debate in the JCR focusing on
scientific evidence over health concerns. The issue will now be
resolved through a referendum on the Thursday of Fifth Week. JCR Treasurer Craig Haffey is leading the support for the
plan. He told Cherwell, “The World Health Organisation and
virtually every industrialised country in the world have
independently spent millions of pounds on investigating microwave
radiation, and the overwhelming result is that it is of no
harm.” He claimed radiation will be “extremely
negligible”. A phone mast 100ft away produces 30,000 times less radiation
than a mobile held to someone’s ear. He said the extra money
could be used for “Blues Funding, new punts, student
bursaries, improved livingout support and much more.” Other
students are unhappy with the plans. Jamie Dear, who heads opposition to the mast, emphasised the
uncertainty of the research concerning the health effects of low
frequency radiation. He claimed there was compelling anecdotal
evidence of a detrimental effect on health. He pointed to a case
in Wishaw, North Birmingham, where “37 out of the 50
residents living in the immediate vicinity of the 70ft mast,
erected in 2000, developed some form of debilitating illness,
including 7 cases of cancer”. The mast proposed for LMH is 3 ft high, and over twenty times
smaller. Although there is no proof that the Wishaw mast was
responsible, Dear said “an extra £4000 a year would be
trivial in comparison to the health risks”. He added that
“the JCR has trouble spending its money anyway”, citing
a £2,600 budget surplus from last term. Opponents also dislike the fact that future JCR members
won’t have a free choice in accepting or rejecting the mast.
One languages student on her year abroad has already contacted
the college, requesting not to be housed in the vicinity of the
mast if the plan goes ahead. Lisa Oldham, Director of Mast Sanity, a group that campaigns
against masts being sited close to communities, said students
were not alone. “Thousands of people are trying to get masts
moved or trying to prevent new ones being placed near their
homes.”ARCHIVE: 2nd week TT 2004