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INSURANCE AND PHONE MASTS

Health and phone masts can be an emotive subject, much debate has been had over whether masts do or do not cause ill health, the answer to the debate is not an easy one, on one side we have a very strong voice saying that there is no proven evidence of an adverse health effect, and on the other an equally strong voice saying, and it has not been proven that there is no health risk. What is the answer, research is on going, and it could be many years before the question is resolved. To protect themselves and thier families against potential harm many will look to their insurance policies, particularly land owners who have masts sited on thier property. However, the insurance industry is very reluctant to insure an unknown risk.

Lloyds of London recommended to its members, according to a news report, that they do not insure for public liability against emissions from mobile phones and base stations. The report in The London Observer - Insurers balk at risks of phones - By Sarah Ryle, Consumer Affairs Correspondent Sunday April 11, 1999 has to some extent been bourn out, when directly challenged not one of the Mobile Phone Operators will undertake to indemnify landowners against risk where masts are sited on their property. It has been reported by one Australian Insurance company that was approached to have a mast sited on their office block as stating that they refused as the risk was too high.

What in real terms does this mean, first if someone who becomes ill from being subjected to EMF emissions while not being prevented from claiming damages from a landowner that has failed to take reasonable precautions, the reality is that apart from making the land owner bankrupt, or unless the landowner is wealthy, then there is little chance of getting any serious compensation from the Land Owner. Okay so the Phone operator could be sued, however if the worst fears are bourne out many thousands if not hundreds of thousands of people will all be looking to get compensation, with no insurance to foot the bill will phone operators be in a sufficiently sound position to meet their obligations. This is of even more importance when looked at from an internation stance, as the same picture could be painted Worldwide.

The answer to this is that land owners and operators must be made aware of their potential obligations. Whilst we still do not know of the real potential effects of masts, present research indicates a whole tranch of effects that are believed to be associated with phone mast emissions. therefore you as affected residents should set out to protect your self by informing the land owners, local planning authorities and operators of their liabilities, the known dangers. We do this so that later down the line those responsible cannot claim they did not know. Planning Sanity in conjunction with Mast Sanity have compiled a series of letters these can be downloaded and altered to suit your own case. There is also a straight forward letter to landowners setting out the insurance concerns.

As an organisation we would welcome copies of any responses received from operators and landowners, especially to the direct question will, they (the landowner) indemnify the local community against risk?

However, insurance is now available against the potential for adverse developments including telecom masts close to residential property. The insurance premium is 12 per month for 25% of the properties value up to a maximum of 100,000 plus removal expences, being the projected difference in the before and after value of the property affected by the development. The insurred must sell their home and move. Whilst the policy would be of little benefit to anyone already affected by a development, the conditions being that it the policy must be taken out within 13 weeks of the person moving into the new property, and a declaration must be signed that they are not aware of any adverse developments that are likely to affect the policy at the time of taking out the insurance. This is further evidence of the acceptance of inappropriate developments affecting residential property values. Information on the scheme can be obtained from Lucas, Fettes & Partners 0207 413 0999.

Planning Sanity - June 2004 (can be freely used by local communities within their campaigns. Publication by third parties is permitted providing acknowledgement of Planning Sanity is given)

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