Health fears over 32m tower

By Sonya Bateson

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Pyes Pa residents are worried about the potential health effects of a 32m cellphone tower planned to be built near their homes.

The cellphone tower is to be erected by Vodafone and is one of a number planned for the Western Bay of Plenty District as part of the company's rural broadband initiative.

Resident Graeme O'Neill said his property would be most affected by the structure, which would come within 120m of his newly-purchased home.

Mr O'Neill said he was worried about potential health effects and how the tower would affect the resale value and the aesthetics of his home.

"I've been in touch with the Green Party and I've written to the council saying I strongly protest against the tower. We pay huge money for a Lim report and this wasn't mentioned on it. I wouldn't have purchased this property had I had knowledge this 32m monster was to be erected along with the suspect health risks of electromagnetic fields."

Mr O'Neill said they had moved to the country to get away from this sort of thing.

"I can't understand anyone giving permission to have one of these base towers on their property, Vodafone says there are no health risks, but I remember such assurances by tobacco companies and and also manufacturers of asbestos. It is wrong that a structure of this type can be sited near residential homes."

Neighbour Neil Farrant said his biggest concern was health effects.

"I don't get along with mobile phones or masts, they give me headaches. I'm very much against it and I'm talking to my solicitor about putting in a submission to council. As far as I'm concerned, mobile phones aren't safe."

Mr Farrant was also concerned about the value of his home being affected by the tower.

Western Bay District Council consents manager Chris Watt confirmed there was a resource consent application for a cellphone tower at the Pyes Pa Rd location and submissions would be accepted up until August 30. Once submissions were received, Mr Watt said it would go before the Regulatory Hearings Committee.

He said the Pyes Pa Rd tower was among others planned for Oropi, Maketu and Aongatete.

Mr Watt said all towers had to be built to health and safety regulations.

Vodafone external communications manager Michelle Baguley said the planned cellphone tower was part of the Government's Rural Broadband Initiative and would provide both new mobile coverage and wireless broadband to more than 1200 locals.

She said the tower had to be more than 25m tall because of a Government stipulation that required all towers to allow open access, which could include other telecommunications companies.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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