Mobile phone tower plan for national park

A PROPOSAL by Telstra to build a mobile phone tower in the Royal National Park at Grays Point has been condemned by environmentalists.

Telstra wants to build the tower next to an access track within the park, about 60 metres from the southern end of Greenhaven Road, to boost network capacity at Grays Point.

The company looked at a number of possible sites for the tower, including Grays Point Oval, Grays Point Bush Fire Brigade, shops in Grays Point Road and various sites within the national park.

The installation requires NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service approval.

A letter from Telstra representative Aurecon said the electromagnetic energy (EME) levels for the tower were predicted to be 0.17 percent, or more than 588 below the limit outlined by Australian Standards.

But Sutherland Shire Environment Centre strongly opposed the tower in the park and said Telstra could provide services to Grays Point with a smaller, lower-power device that emitted less radiofrequency radiation.

‘‘Telstra’s application implies that the fact the [device] would comply with the ARPANSA standard would ensure that public health is protected,’’ the centre’s chairwoman Jenni Gormley wrote in a submission to the service.

‘‘This is incorrect for the following reasons. The ARPANSA standard ‘‘Radiation Protection Standard: Maximum Exposure Levels to Radiofrequency Fields — 3 kHz to 300 GHz’’ protects against a limited number of short-term heating effects. It does not protect against adverse non-heating effects or long-term effects such as are experienced by exposed residents. 

‘‘The International Agency for Research on Cancer has classified environmental levels of radiofrequency radiation — that is levels that complied with Australian and international standards — as a class 2B carcinogen. Numerous studies demonstrate adverse health effects — including cancer — among people exposed to radiofrequency radiation from mobile phone base stations for long periods of time.

‘‘Radiofrequency radiation from broadcast antennas has been found to have adverse effects on plants and animals.’’

EMR Australia director Lyn McLean, who has monitored scientific discussion on electromagnetic radiation (EMR) for the past 17 years, said the ARPANSA standard did not protect the public and needed to be changed.

‘‘Earlier this year a team of independent scientists and public health experts released a 24-chapter report examining over 1800 recent scientific papers,’’ Ms McLean said. 

‘‘It found harmful effects from mobile phone and mobile phone tower radiation at levels of exposure that are thousands of times lower than the ARPANSA standard.

‘‘A huge concern is how this radiation impacts children. They’re usually thought to be more vulnerable than adults and have the possibility of a lifetime of exposure.’’

A service spokesman said that as part of the consultation and approval process a review of environmental factors was required, which had been produced for Telstra by Aurecon for public exhibition.

‘‘All submissions received from the community will be considered by [the service] when making a determination on the proposal,’’ he said.

Should the phone tower be built in the Royal National Park?

Mobile concerns: EMR Australia director Lyn McLean is concerned about the proposal to build a mobile tower 600 metres inside the Royal National Park. She is pictured with a meter used to  measure radiofrequency radiation. Picture: John Veage

Mobile concerns: EMR Australia director Lyn McLean is concerned about the proposal to build a mobile tower 600 metres inside the Royal National Park. She is pictured with a meter used to measure radiofrequency radiation. Picture: John Veage

Mobile concerns: EMR Australia director Lyn McLean is concerned about the proposal to build a mobile tower 600 metres inside the Royal National Park. She is pictured with a meter used to  measure radiofrequency radiation. Picture: John Veage

Mobile concerns: EMR Australia director Lyn McLean is concerned about the proposal to build a mobile tower 600 metres inside the Royal National Park. She is pictured with a meter used to measure radiofrequency radiation. Picture: John Veage