Radio masts 'safe'

A SERIES of towering radio masts will be constructed through the heart of the Weston area, causing major health fears among residents. People who will potentially have to live near to the four masts, which will be up to 30m in height, say not only could t

A SERIES of towering radio masts will be constructed through the heart of the Weston area, causing major health fears among residents.People who will potentially have to live near to the four masts, which will be up to 30m in height, say not only could they emit dangerous microwave energy, but they could also cause a massive slump in property prices.But Network Rail, which is behind the plans, says the masts are essential for safety reasons and insists emission levels will not be dangerous.Network Rail plans to put up the masts near Weston Railway Station, Worle Railway Junction - where the track branches into two at Locking Castle - near Mendip Way in Bleadon and at Kenn Moor Gate in Yatton.They are part of the company's plans to replace old radio systems across the country with a new system designed to help signallers and train drivers communicate.The firm has written to residents living near the proposed sites but many have heard of the controversial proposals by word-of-mouth.One of them, David Hetherington-Phelps, of Wyvern Close, Weston, said: "Our concern is firstly from a health and safety point of view. These masts will emit microwave energy although it is claimed they are under Britain's safety limits."Secondly, they are not going to be the most beautiful structures and, at 20m or 65ft, they will tower over twice the size of the average house and taller than their mobile phone equivalents."Network Rail says the new communication system, supported by the masts, will improve safety on the tracks. Drivers will be able to talk to signallers wherever they are without having to climb out of their cab and use a signal post telephone.A spokesman said: "We are sorry the proposed installation of this equipment has raised concerns, but these masts are an essential part of a new national safety system."These are not mobile phone masts and will only be used for railway purposes. All our sites operate well within the UK safety and international emission guidelines and are licensed by Ofcom."They do not broadcast a signal in all directions like mobile telephone masts, but direct the signals along the railway line, and emissions levels away from the track will be significantly lower. "We do try to avoid residential areas where possible, but sometimes this is unavoidable as we must ensure 100 per cent coverage of the railway for safety reasons.


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