Cell mastsHas your community been affected by the erection of or an application to erect a cell mast?If it hasn’t, judging by the flood of applications by cell companies to erect cell masts in residential areas, your community will be affected sooner rather than later.

With 5G on the horizon, there will be a massive rollout of cell mast infrastructure, and many more communities will be affected. It is an onslaught.

Having just been through the public participation process for a cell mast application in my neighbourhood, I have first-hand experience of how flawed the process is. The odds are stacked against citizens trying to challenge such applications. It also appears that corrupt activity is at play.

I have followed many objections by other communities to cell mast applications. A few have been successfully fought off but most are eventually passed.

If cell companies don’t succeed with such an application, they simply try again at a later date. Cellphone companies have vast resources, and most cases that are challenged are dragged out by the cell companies in the legal system until the affected residents are too exhausted to continue the fight or they have run out of money.

I believe the only way we citizens will put a stop to this once and for all is by challenging the constitutionality of erecting cell masts in residential areas. We have a much-vaunted Bill of Rights that enshrines the right to a safe environment. Let’s put this to the test and see if our rights are indeed protected by our constitution.

To do this, we need to fight smart. We need to get organised and fight cell companies as one group. If we continue as we are in silos, all communities fighting the applications will be picked off one by one by cell companies and they’ll force their masts into our living spaces.

We need to create a “war chest” that can be used by any community fighting an application for a cell mast in their area. This can be funded by donations, fund-raisers, crowdfunding and with the assistance of interested NGOs.

Cell companies must be made aware that they will be made to go to court for each application and that this will eat into their profits. If this group becomes too big to be ignored, we will be able to influence policy decisions and even interrogate political parties about their cell technology policies before voting for them. We could even organise to port from a particular cell company en masse if they continue to roll out their infrastructure at the expense of citizens.

In all the cell mast applications that I have seen, the most common objection was on health grounds. Other frequently raised objections were environmental degradation, reduction in property values and impairment of views.

On the health issue, the cell companies simply say they follow the World Health Organization guidelines. The WHO relies on the International Commission on Non-ionising Radiation to investigate the health effects of low-level electromagnetic fields, which cell masts/phones (among other devices) emit.

The problem with this is that the commission is compromised and is an industry-loyal NGO that is seemingly answerable to no one. There are serious conflicts of interest, and its members seem more concerned about shielding cell companies from criticism than with the negative health effects of this technology. As one example, this is a quote by the head of the commission, Dr Emile van Deventer, in 2007: “Industry is not interested in your health, they want the network to work properly.”

They simply fob off any criticism of the industry and ignore the latest research. This allows the WHO to glibly claim “there is no research that proves any known adverse health effect”, without producing a shred of evidence for this astounding claim.

Let’s call this what it is – a blatant lie. This mantra is repeated by cell companies and municipalities to squash any health concerns raised. (The City of Cape Town has even stated it would no longer consider any objections based on health risks.) In fact, the same modus operandi has been used by the oil, tobacco, GMO, pharmaceutical and other industries.

They introduce scientific uncertainty by creating the illusion that there’s doubt about prevailing research. They never have to be proved right – they have only to maintain the illusion. This is despite scientists doing the research all agreeing there is a serious concern. This is fraudulent and borders on criminal negligence.

Many concerned scientists have tried to approach both the WHO and the commission to impress upon them the dangers of the mass rollout of cell technology infrastructure and that the information the WHO is disseminating stands in stark contrast to the research results. There is ample evidence that radio-frequency radiation (RF) causes an increase in the risk of cancer, infertility, learning and memory deficits, neurological disorders (like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s), electrohypersensitivity, DNA changes, heart disease, immune system deficiency, and more.

Many long-term studies on the effect of RF on humans are coming to completion and the results are being published. Each new result seems to be more damning than the last.

We can no longer rely on the information from the commission alone to formulate our health or cell infrastructure policy. We need to force a review of all the available research from all sources and make an informed decision on the dangers (or not) of low-level electromagnetic fields generated by cell masts.

If there are no health risks, as cell companies claim, then surely they would welcome such a review, as it would vindicate their stance? In fact, they should even be willing to fund such a review. They won’t because they know full well that there are serious health risks associated with the technology.

As proof of this, British Telecom warned in its 2017 annual report: “We cannot provide absolute assurance that research in the future won’t establish links between radio frequency emissions and health risks.” What it is really saying is: “We can’t hide the truth forever.”

We need to challenge the cell mast policy in the Constitutional Court. We need to ask the court for the following relief:

* An order that a commission of inquiry be set up to review all research relating to the health risks of cell mast emissions. The results of the inquiry must be used to formulate cell mast infrastructure policy.

* An order for a moratorium on the rollout of cell mast infrastructure until the commission of inquiry has published its findings.

* An order that no cell masts may be erected in residential areas, especially taking into account the most vulnerable citizens – children and the aged. No cell masts near crèches, schools or old-age homes.

* An order that anyone who “hosts” a cell mast on their property will be held jointly liable for all medical claims that arise from exposure to cell mast emissions.

* An order that a commission of inquiry or a panel of experts must meet every two years to review new science relating to cell masts and to update all related policies accordingly.

* An order that cell masts in residential areas must have 50% + 1 community support.

* An order that all cell masts that fall foul of the new guidelines be removed.

If you share my concerns about the massive rollout of cell mast infrastructure without heeding the available and alarming health risks associated with that, then please visit our website at www.naacm.co.za and register your details.

The plan is to create a one-stop shop where objectors can find the necessary information for their challenge. This will be used as a contact list for all further updates on this campaign.

* Main is co-founder of National Alliance Against Cell Masts.