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Poor mobile signals end in sight

Mobile phone users in south Down and south Armagh could be on the verge of ending poor signals and roaming charges but it all hinges on a meeting this Friday. Councillors must make a decision on whether or not to back a government funded initiative that would see the erection of up to 31 mobile phone masts in signal black spots or risk losing the investment opportunity. Many areas of south Down and south Armagh have next to no signal with a 2012 Ofcom report confirming that 87 per cent of local mobile users in the areas are forced to roam to southern networks each week. This is a scenario that the Mobile Infrastructure Project  (MIP), which is targeting areas with ‘no effective coverage’ is seeking to address. Despite the well documented signal problems in the district Arqiva the group charged with delivering the £150m UK wide project has said that “It would be impossible to deliver mobile phone services in compliance with the Council’s current policy.” The Council’s policy which was set in 2001 opposes the erection of masts within 500m of homes due to health concerns something Arqiva claim is overly cautious. The proposed new policy is that the council will object to the granting of planning permission for mobile telecommunications infrastructure if it does not comply with the ICNIRP public exposure guidelines for electromagnetic fields. This applies to both individual and cumulative effects of multiple installations. Furthermore it is the policy of the Council that applicants seeking to develop mobile telecommunications infrastructure should apply a precautionary principle in the design and operation of any such facility  in order that all electromagnetic fields strengths are kept to the minimum required for the operation.


Newry Reporter

22nd January 2014