Plan for cell tower near school

The piece of land in Sun Valley on which Erf 13257 is situated.

The City is considering leasing a site next to Sun Valley Primary School and a playground to a company that wants to build a 25-metre cell tower there.

The public has until Monday August 8 to comment on the proposal to lease a 100m² portion of 32 Corsair Way to SBA Towers Pty Ltd for a monthly rental income of R14 567.51 for 10 years with the option to renew.

The purpose of the base station to be built there is to “uninterrupted telecommunications services to the community”, according to a notice published in a document intended for ratepayers, civic groups, and the sub-council’s notice board.

A notice was also published in the Cape Argus and Die Burger in July.

The site, Erf 13257, is zoned as a utility zone (UT) for utility services such as electrical substations, water reservoirs, a rooftop base telecommunication station, and a free-standing base telecommunication station, among other uses.

The Echo enquired about the size and primary use of the base station as well as its number of antennas, but SBA Towers Pty Ltd told us the information was “confidential.”

Hannetjie Botha, who owns The Barn Pre-Primary School in Corvette Avenue, opposite the park behind the proposed site of the cell tower, said she was unaware of the proposal until contacted by the Echo.

She said she had considered buying the plot next to Erf 13257 to build a creche as it was zoned for a school. Considering that that plot, Erf 13258, could possibly be home to a school in the future, building a cell tower next to it should be reconsidered.

Coralie Thompson, the principal of Sun Valley Primary School, said she was opposed to the cell tower as it would be right next to the school where pupils spent most of their day playing and learning.

Pupils’ brains and skulls were still developing, leaving them exposed to anything that would affect them on a cellular level, she said.

There had been several appeals and applications by the school in the past to use the site for education and sport but they had been rejected, she said.

“A cell phone tower is a health nightmare in comparison to a 21st century future learning plan, where playing is vital for a developing child. I therefore vehemently object to any plans that will place our school community at risk, and I am sure our parents will support me in this plight,” she said.

The Fish Hoek Valley Ratepayers’ and Residents’ Association (FHVRRA) said Corsair Way was the main road through Sun Valley and residents and users of the public space felt a 25m tower in front of the children’s play park and Sun Valley Primary School would be unsightly.

Brian Youngblood, the association’s chairman, said residents had recently planted eight new trees in the area with permission from the council.

“It seems pointless for neighbours to try and beautify an area, just to have a larger commercial, unnatural structure also being erected in this space,” he said.

There was also reason to be concerned about the proposal on health grounds, he said.

“All generations of cellphone technologies generate radiofrequency radiation which is harmful to life. Direct correspondence links between radiofrequency radiation and tumours have been found and longer exposure to this radiation has been directly associated with human health conditions, even death,” he said. This mast’s “proximity to our children is just too close”.

The American Cancer Society has this to say about exposure to radiofrequency (RF) radiation: “At this time, there’s no strong evidence that exposure to RF waves from cell phone towers causes any noticeable health effects. However, this does not mean that the RF waves from cell phone towers have been proven to be absolutely safe. Most expert organisations agree that more research is needed to help clarify this, especially for any possible long-term effects.”

Mr Youngblood said “connectivity” was good in the area and it was unclear why there was a need for a tower there.

Alternative locations for the tower, he said, would be at the entrance to Sun Valley at the Corsair Way and the Kommetjie Road traffic-light intersection; the entrance to Sun Valley at Buller Louw Drive and Frigate Crescent, where there are a lot of council verge areas available; The Sun Valley Mall parking area; the Longbeach Mall parking area; or Ou Kaapseweg where cellphone coverage was minimal.

Linette Kempster, a local estate agent, said buyers and tenants were less interested in properties near cell towers and antennas and the values of those properties suffered as a result. Sales analysis showed property prices dropped on average by at least 21% after a cell tower was built in a neighbourhood, she said.

“Even buyers who believe there are no adverse health effects from cell phone base stations will make a reduced offer on a property located near a cell phone base station as they know that other potential buyers might do so,” she said.

Ms Kempster said the site was near three schools and as parent of a child at one of them she was strongly opposed to the cell tower going up.

“Since exposure to radiofrequency is inevitable, it is necessary that measures and controls be implemented for the sake of our children’s health and to minimize the potentially harmful effects as far as possible,” she said.

Comments or objections can be sent to Gary Dammert at with the case number, 130008218, in the subject line.

A map of the area indicating where Erf 13257 is situated. The red dot indicates the location on the property where the City intends to place the tower.