Pros of cell masts

A napplication for a 20-metre-high cell mast, with accompanying base station, in Glencairn has the support of the local civic association.

The site is directly adjacent to Dido Valley Road on Erf 455.

Warren Petterson Planning submitted the application on behalf of Atlas Towers for the free-standing cellular communications base station and mast in Dido Valley.

Roger Bagshaw, who holds the architectural portfolio on the exco of the Simon’s Town Civic Association, said the association supported the cell mast because it would add further connectivity to the area.

Last week, he told the Echo that he knew from previous applications that while everyone wanted good connectivity and was happy to use their cellphone, no one wanted a cell mast in their backyard. And he said he wanted to hear feedback from the neighbourhood as, so far, no one had objected to the plan for the mast.

But, while travelling this week, Mr Bagshaw sent word that the cell mast station had the support of the civic association.

The deadline for objections and public comment is Saturday May 25.

The applicants say the main reason the cell mast is needed is to boost connectivity.

Dirko Loots, on behalf of Warren Petterson Planning, said in the application that the cell mast station would be greatly beneficial for the inhabitants of Dido Valley (Glencairn) – which includes local businesses and residents – as well as surrounding communities and commuters.

“This benefit relates to the fact that an improvement will be experienced in terms of network provision and coverage. In its end, this will enhance the level of health and safety; accessibility to emergency services e.g. ambulances, police, fire department etc; social interaction by way of accessibility to social media and economic efficiency through accessibility of businesses and individuals to faster, efficient and reliable internet and communication connectivity,” he said.

The proposed 100m2 station would have a 20m-high monopole mast, with attached antennae and microwave dishes, four equipment containers and a 2.4m-high palisade fence, with a locked gate.

Power for the base station would come from the available on-site electrical supply to the property.

In the report, Mr Loots said it was estimated that cellular network operators in South Africa would build more than 4000 new base stations over the next five years.

The nearest base station is about 2.6km away from this proposed one.

With regards to growing public concern about health risks associated with cellular communication, Mr Loots claimed current scientific research had yet to produce conclusive evidence suggesting adverse health effects associated with, working with or living close to cellular technology.

He said that although antennae and base stations emitted radio waves, their frequency was not considered high enough to pose a health risk.

Regular tests would be done to confirm compliance to safety regulations, he said.

The national Department of Health had published exposure-limit guidelines for electromagnetic fields (EMF), he

“These are based on guidelines endorsed by the ICNIRP (International Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection), an independent scientific organisation established in 1992. Emissions from the base stations and antennae comply with these guidelines,” he said.

When the City put out its proposed amendments to by-laws in April this year, the Fish Hoek Valley Residents’ and Ratepayers’ Association objected to, among other things, an amendment that would allow rooftop cell masts up to a metre high in residential areas. Another proposed amendment to the by-law would allow cell towers up to 12m to be built on schools, churches or clinics as of right, that is without prior land-use approval from the City or adjacent land owners (“Public participation rigged,” Echo, April 4).

Chairman Brian Youngblood said their objection to the masts was health based.

He said the association felt that until there was conclusive scientific proof that cell masts were not detrimental to health, due care should be taken with their installation.