Cellphones & Royal Ascot

Cellphone reception in Royal Ascot and the vicinity is poor and over the years there has been a considerable number of complaints about this. We seem to be situated in a “blind” spot as far as cellphone reception is concerned.
Cellphone masts in Royal Ascot
During 2008/2009 notices were published in local newspapers advertising the proposed installation of cellphone masts at a number of possible sites in the area. One of the proposed sites was on the roofs of the Blaauwberg Subcouncil buildings in Bridle Way in Royal Ascot.
The Draft Basic Assessment Report for the proposed installations was published in August 2009. RAMPOA lodged an objection based on the suggested health hazards caused by radiation from cellphone masts. A local resident appointed an attorney to object on her behalf, and RAMPOA subsequently joined the action by the attorney, and eventually contributed to the attorney’s costs. However, at the same time there were a considerable number of residents in Royal Ascot and the vicinity supporting this installation because of the generally poor cellphone reception in the area.
In September 2011 cellphone masts were installed on the roof of Block B of the Blaauwberg Subcouncil buildings, and RAMPOA requested information about this installation from Council. We received the following response from the Property Management Department:
“The installations are for all 3 cell companies (Cell C, MTN and Vodacom). All necessary procedures were followed in order to get the required approvals. On the subject property it was necessary for the applicants to get building plans approved, which was done. No land use approval was necessary as the zoning of the property permits this activity as a use.
For the lease from council, normal circulation took place and an advert was placed in the Cape Times and Die Burger. No comments from the public were received. The item went before Full Council for approval and the lease was approved. We already have valid lease agreements with all 3 operators. The situation can therefore not be reversed.”
RAMPOA now has no option but to accept Council’s decision in this matter.
Health hazard of cellphone radiation
The World Health Organisation (WHO) and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) convened a working group of 31 scientists from 14 countries in Lyon, France, in May 2011 to assess the potential carcinogenic hazards from exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields. The working group discussed the possibility that these exposures might induce long-term health effects, in particular an increased risk for cancer.
The group reviewed and evaluated available literature and unpublished reports on the following exposure categories involving radiofrequency electromagnetic fields:
occupational exposure to radar and to microwaves;
environmental exposures associated with transmission signals for radio, television and wireless communication; and
personal exposures associated with the use of wireless telephones.
The evidence was reviewed critically, and the overall conclusion was that only for the personal exposure category was there limited evidence among users of wireless telephones for glioma (a malignant form of brain cancer) and acoustic neuroma arising from heavy use. The evidence for the occupational and environmental exposure categories was judged to be inadequate to draw any conclusion.
This means that the evidence for personal users being at risk, while still limited, is strong enough to suggest a link between cellphone use and glioma. Further research is required, but the IARC has advised that it is important to take pragmatic measures to reduce exposure such as hands-free devices and texting.
The role of radiation from cellphone masts is still inconclusive, and no direct link between such radiation and a negative effect on human health has been found in any of the studies done to date. However, the report strongly recommends that additional research be done in this field.
The information above was contained in a media release issued by WHO and IARC on 31 May 2011. The full report is available in the July 2011 issue of the journal: The Lancet Oncology.