World-wide, communities are fighting to regulate installation of mobile phone antennas in residential areas and close to schools, nurseries, hospitals. Ordinary citizens are at this moment struggling to stop antennas being erected near homes in East Fishkill, New York, and in the commune of Thônex, canton Geneva, Switzerland. Recently, the General Council of the commune of Le Landeron , canton Neuchâtel, unanimously adopted (33 to 0) a motion aimed at regulating installation of mobile phone antennas on its territory. Following is the text of the motion which serves as an excellent example of the type of arguments and recommendations to put forth in such cases. In 2010, the canton of Neuchâtel had already issued a decree limiting the use of Wi-Fi in classrooms in pre-schools, primary and secondary 1 schools.
Motion aiming to request elaboration of planning and regulation concerning installation of mobile phone antennas on the territory of Le Landeron
The presence of mobile phone antennas near inhabited areas is an important and difficult problem to manage for communes. WHO’s [World Health Organization] decision of 31 May 2011 to classify electromagnetic waves as potentially carcinogenic has increased the fear of residents living near this type of antenna. The limit values of emission established by ORNI [Ordinance of 23 December 1999 on Protection against Non-Ionizing Radiation] is quite obsolete and much superior to the new limits recommended by members of the scientific and medical community.
Also, within the framework of the decree of 1st November 2010 concerning the deployment of a pedagogical network in the schools of Neuchâtel, the State Council has severely limited the use of Wifi technology in schools, banning it from classrooms in pre-schools and primary and secondary 1 schools. Knowing that a mobile phone antenna has a permanent electrical field intensity higher than Wifi access (according to the study of the Federal Office of the Environment) and that children spend more time at home than in school, it seems logical to ban or at least severely limit installation of mobile phone antennas near residential neighborhoods.
In addition to the possible health risks to residents, the presence of mobile phone antennas in a residential area bears inconveniences and damages to all residents:
- They are an aberration from the esthetic point of view;
- They can change the character of a neighborhood and/or adversely affect quality of life;
- They can negatively influence the sale or rental of property and apartments. These psychological effects bear substantial harm to home owners who want to sell or rent their property while the owner who decides to harbor a mobile phone antenna pockets large sums of money;
- They can cause discomfort to the well-being of residents.
In a decree dated 19 March 2012, the Federal Tribunal has decided that a commune has the right to plan as a priority the installation of antennas on already “polluted” areas of its territory and to limit their installation in residential areas.
Recommendations / wishes
The planning and regulation requested by the current Motion aims to regulate the installation of new mobile phone antennas on the territory of the Commune of Le Landeron and should in our opinion tend towards:
- The antennas must be installed as a priority in areas not destined for habitat and at a distance greater than 200 meters from the nearest dwelling;
- To the extent possible, the Commune will place at the disposition of the operators appropriate locations in order for them to install their antennas;
- By default, they can be erected in mixed areas while keeping a distance greater than 200 meters from the nearest dwelling;
- If, as a last resort, a mobile phone antenna must be installed in a residential area, the operator should erect an antenna of low power which would only serve the neighborhood in which it is located. An maximum emission limit value of 0.6 V/m is required, the value, as advocated by the Bioinitiative Report.
- If, as a last resort, a mobile phone antenna must be installed in a residential area and it respects the limit mentioned previously, it must be hidden in order to reduce intangible pollutants and maintain the character and/or quality of life of the neighborhood in which it is placed.
- An antenna proposal being investigated and which requires an exemption will be refused in the case where it is opposed.
- No mobile phone antenna can be erected in a protected area.
In addition to the provisions mentioned above, the choice of a site for installation of a mobile phone antenna by an operator must be invoked according to the following criteria:
- Prioritize the installation of mobile phone antennas on land belonging to the commune in order that rental income profits the entire community and not a single owner;
- Favor the sharing of sites by operators in order to reduce the number of antennas on the territory of the commune.
For practical reasons, we would appreciate that the current motion be debated during the General Council meeting on 13 September 2012.