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31/12/2003 - Travelling on trains and TETRA

Orange is placing antennas at the entrance to railway tunnels to maintai phone calls and data connections, including internet use. The next challenge, they say, is to create the technology to extend network coverage to the London Underground and other metro systems.

TETRA may be dangerous, according to a leading cancer research scientist - at least if the mast is near his house....

Professor Sir David Lane, director of the Cancer Research UK Cell Transformation Research Group at the University of Dundee, a leading medical scientist, claimed that the controversial TETRA transmitting system "may constitute a health hazard" to people living near mast sites. Sir David submitted an objection to the application to the owner of the mast where the Airwave equipment would be placed, near his home in Fife.Councillors in north-east Fife recently decided to defer a decision on several similar applications until more is known about claims that the masts could be associated with health problems. Since his complaint, Airwave have decided to move the mast elsewhere, and we gather Sir David now has nothing more to say on the issue.

More about TETRA

As well as the councillors in East Fife cited above who have recently stalled nine planning applications for six months because of health concerns, in West Sussex all the leading landowners have pledged not to allow TETRA masts to be erected on their land because of safety concerns. In Hampshire, the introduction of TETRA has been put on hold and on the Gower Peninsula, campaigners are seeking a judicial review of mast erection.

Complaints of deafness, headaches, migraines, sleeplessness, skin rashes and nausea were made by 180 Lancashire police officers after they started using the TETRA system two years ago. The police in Yorkshire and the South West have also been making complaints. The Home Office is spending £5 million on research at Imperial College, London, where they are monitoring 100,000 policemen at the 26 forces using TETRA, over the next 15 years, for potential adverse health effects.

The Home Office still hope to meet the March 2005 target for the Airwave network, despite growing opposition.  Airwave say that they now have just over 50% of the required masts errected, however they are way behind the official roll-out schedule. Their contract states that the whole TETRA system should be complete and operating satisfactorily by mid 2005 or they will have to pay significant penalties.

The NRPB currently say that they believe the TETRA system is unlikely to pose health problems, but they "cannot say there is no hazard."