By Daryn Wood
TEMPERS flared at the second public meeting on the proposed erection of a Cell C cellphone tower in Walmer, with angry residents demanding answers to why their objections had not been considered.
The tower is set to be erected on the grounds of the Walmer Bowling Club, but residents refuse to back down.
“We don’t want the tower!” shouted one man in frustration, summing up the sentiments of many members of the Walmer community.
The municipality’s time limit for objections ran from November 25 to December 19 last year, but residents argued they were not given sufficient notice to lodge their objections.
More than 250 objections were submitted to the municipality, the majority of which were sent in after the deadline.
Clarendon Park Primary principal Alan Lones said they had received no acknowledgement of objections from the municipality.
Municipal housing and land directorate’s Dawie Welgemoed said the application for the tower had not yet been considered by the council. He did, however, say that all objections submitted after the deadline were “null and void”.
“But we will address your concerns and report them to the council,” Welgemoed told the meeting.
Willem Janse van Rensburg of BJB, the company contracted to erect the cell tower, said they were purely consultants for Cell C.
He explained various technical aspects and told residents there was no concrete evidence that cell towers were a health hazard.
He said some people were more likely to be affected than others, adding that the radiation was not as severe as some people thought.
“No one can say it is dangerous. The day that they find out that it is, we will switch them (towers) all off.”
But residents were not ready to accept these claims and said they were not prepared to take chances.
“We don’t want to unwillingly expose our children to this and find out later that they have been affected,” said one resident.
Answering a question on why another tower was needed in Walmer, Janse van Rensburg said there had been an agreement with Cell C and other networks to piggyback on their towers for a limited period, after which Cell C was required to put up its own structures.
Tanya Wyatt, representing the Walmer Community Core Group, said scientific research had shown that cell masts posed a threat to public health.
“Cell C will tell you that cell masts cause no harm to health, but hundreds of independent studies show just the opposite – they warn of brain tumours, leukaemia, DNA damage and other serious conditions,” said Wyatt.
Ward 3 DA councillor David Hayselden said that until there was proof whether or not they were harmful to health, he was against it. “There is a lot of uncertainty but my stance has not changed. I am still opposed to it,” said Hayselden.
There were no representatives from Cell C present.