Residents of Aqua Park are up in arms over the possible erection of a telecommunications mast in Perry Joynt Street. The American Towers Corporation (ATC) has requested permission from the Greater Tzaneen Municipality in terms of section 68 of the Spatial Planning and Land Use Management by-law to construct a base station and erect a large telecommunications mast on a property in this area.
The proposed mast will be 35 metres in height and resemble a Yellowwood tree. In industry lingo this is known as a “Typical Yellowwood Monopole Tree Mast” and is an attempt to make the giant telecoms mast blend in with the surroundings. The base station, according to the site plans will be 12 metres by 12 metres in size.
The reason for the uproar from the residents is due to the potential health risks that these towers reportedly hold for the residents, fauna and flora of the immediate surroundings. Studies conducted in the past have shown either no side effects or negative health implications as well as definitive evidence of some health impacts and therefor the topic remains open to debate and highly contentious.
The fact does however remain that cell phone towers emit microwave radiation. According to the website emfsa.co.za, these Electromagnetic frequencies (EMF’s) notably modify blood and brain physiology in electrosensitive (ES) people, and the impact on biological markers rises and falls with intensity of the exposure.
The majority of published studies in different countries have shown a relationship between distance from base stations and a variety of health complaints. They have found that the closer to the towers people live there is an increase incidence of reported symptoms including headache, lack of concentration, memory loss, irritability, depression, insomnia, fatigue, loss of libido, nausea, lack of appetite. These are the same symptoms people who have electrosensitivity report.
To the residents in Aquapark, this information is enough for them to resist and oppose the proposal to have the tower erected in their neighbourhood.
Currently, a permit application process has been started which is being facilitated by a South African company, Torbiouse Solutions on behalf of ATC. The permitting process will continue according to legislation, schemes and procedures of which public participation forms a real and relevant part. The permitting process will not be stopped due to objections received.
Bulletin sent an inquiry to Anne Anholts who is the liaison for Torbiouse Solutions. According to her the application is for special Consent (first stage of permitting), and it was submitted on the 11th of June this year. The application was done in terms of the Greater Tzaneen By-Law i.e. an application for special consent in terms of Section 68 of the Spatial Planning and Land Use Management by-law of Greater Tzaneen Municipality.
“We received the acknowledgement letter dated 13 June 2019 from council as prescribed in terms of section 81(3) of the Spatial Planning and Land Use Management By-Law of Greater Tzaneen Municipality,” she explained. “Public participation for this application commenced on the 4th of July 2019 in accordance with council regulations as stipulated in the above-mentioned legislation. The application was open to the public for comments for a period of 30 days and ended on the 2nd of August 2019.”
From this date (2nd of August) Torbiouse Solutions are given 30 days to attend and respond to all the objections received. After this period of 30 days, Council will look at the application together with the objections and mitigations received and then make a decision. Should the application be approved, the submission for the approval of the building plans will be made.
At this stage all signs point to the fact that the tower will be erected regardless of the public concerns. Plans have already been laid bare and it is highly unlikely that council will, at this advanced stage of the process, pull the plug on the project. But, this is not a given as the process will need to run its course.
Three other Yellowwood Monopole tree masts are also planned to be erected at other sites within the GTM’s area of jurisdiction. Two of these other proposals are advertised in this newspaper today. For more information on the possible dangers of these telecommunications poles please visit www.emfsa.co.za in order to construct an informed decision.