Shooters Hill Against Masts
Shooters Hill Against Masts - click to zoom and read the planning application

Mobile masts are something of a blot on the landscape, but are they are blot on sleep and other biological processes too? In recent years mobile operators have been busy improving their coverage in this area, with a growing collection of hilltop antenna, comprised of mobile, shipping, and most controversially emergency services base stations.

A recent TETRA related planning consultation period that expired on February the 17th has perhaps rather late in the day caused something of a stir. The mast is on eaglesfield road near the fire station. The opposition to proposals for the upgrading of equipment owned by airwave solutions has led to mo burgess of the greenwich conservatives writing to residents to survey local feelings on this topic; she explains in her letter that she has received a number of complaints. More recently, a number of posters have gone up on lamp posts in the area, with a couple of contact phone numbers at the bottom, not having rung them myself I’m not sure if they are to do with mo burgess.

Base stations in general are unpopular, partly because some of the masts are so menacing to look at, but airwave equipment in particular is seen as somewhat controversial because of the comparatively higher health risks thought to be associated with the encrypted TETRA radio specification they use. Firstly there’s the slow cooking problem, which relates to both those near base stations and handset users (in this case ambulance workers, firefighters and the police). Additionally there are the so called non-thermal effects associated with TETRA. The story about base station risks is fairly complex (i.e. I couldn’t fully grasp the main literature review after one very boring sitting), but it does seem that the continual repetition of signal oscillations at around 17Hz might (to me) be the mechanism behind the sleep disturbances reported in some of the survey findings, although the so-called nocebo (negative) effect can’t necessarily be ruled out in that study due to the way it was set up. This all led me to speculate that since neural firing patterns oscillate around 11-39Hz during open eyed wakefulness and 2-7Hz during sleep, a constant stream of 17Hz signal frequencies pulsing through ones bedroom wall and head at night could potentially induce wakefulness?

The experiments on the topic is divided into two camps, and Epidemiologists haven’t really been able to investigate TETRA yet as they probably need more time (they are now going over >10 year data for GSM and even that has been divisive). The general scientific consensus seems to be that more long-term adverse health affects have not been ruled out for this technology, and with the previous concerns over some of the signal frequencies and microwave radiation used in TETRA, the response of some people is quite reasonably, “Why should we be the guinea pigs!”

12 Replies to “SHAM”

  1. What letter from Mo Burgess, we are right on top of the mast and knew nothing of this until the posters went up???????

    I see theTtories really do care about us huh!!!!!!!!!

    It’s ok we will just carry on wearing our tin foil hats when we sleep!!!!!

  2. actually if you’re close enough to the masts you might actually be one of the ones who slip under/over the beam as it fans outwards from the antenna. looking back on my speculations they do look a bit one-sided, and so for some balance, here’s what airwave say – science is self-correcting, so if the early research on negative effects of circa 16Hz oscillations were mistakes, then they should get corrected in the long run, and this correction does seem to be happening according to some, the slow cooking microwave story trundles on though. If you use a mobile phone, or are around wifi then you are equally exposing yourself to as yet unknown long-term possibilities – however that’s mainly self-risk… so it’s ok, like drinking and smoking.

    Yes it’s good mo burgess is showing such an interest in local issues, right in time for the election (bit late for the planning application though)… i have scanned the letter from mo burgess, she’s showing some promising signs of making a good grass roots activist, plus she’s retired, which means she doesn’t have a job to distract her from the hill. i think she was involved in the shooters hill traffic calming, if she was, good for her. jagir sekhon (labour candidate) is retired too, and has an OBE for her services to the community, so perhaps they might go well together?

  3. In response to the posting listed I have joined this thread as I am one of the founder members of Shooters Hill Against Masts (SHAM). As a resident of Shooters Hill Laing estate, the campaign was started with a fellow resident and we now have a number residents joining our campaign over the last week since the posters went up.

    I (Chris) have lived in Bushmoor Crescent for 5 years with my wife and daughter and my neighbour (George) the other founder member of SHAM has been a resident for 28 years with his wife. Please note we are politcally free, but appreciate the interest and support shown but the local Conservative party. Our telephone numbers are on the 40+ posters which we have positioned around the Fire Station mast and surrounding roads.

    Firstly may I say its reassuring to read that other residents feel concerned about the continuing number of planning applications for mobile and TETRA equipment and their installation on the mast and others on Shooters Hill.

    As you may be aware since 2004 a number of planning applications for mobile and TETRA equipment have been made, with all these being successful be this by the chairman having the deciding vote or on appeal. These have followed numerous written and spoken objections and petitions being made by residents, which to date have been ignored by Greenwich council and our elected representatives as we continue to suffer from this mast and the other 10 located over Shooters Hill.

    SHAM are therefore determined to seek a change or view from Greenwich council re mobile and TETRA applications and the positioning of masts and we want answers regarding the following concerns and questions:

    1) The Fire Station mast is located within a densely populated conservation area, so why therefore is this not a consideration in the planning process and how have previous applications been allowed despite the regulations that are imposed on householders. There are also pre and after school OFSTED registered clubs within Shrewsbury House.

    2) More must be done to monitor the management of the existing masts to ensure that the restrictions and regulations imposed on the operators have been adhered to. SHAM has established that currently two operators are not conforming to their licences and we cannot locate two other licences and this has been raised with OFCOM and we await their response.

    3) Health issues for residents living and working in the close proximity is a real concern. It is believed that TETRA causes a higher than normal numbers of people suffering minor, moderate and serious health problems, from headaches to cancers, so these concerns must be investigated. [As mentioned we are aware that Maureen (Mo) Burgess a Conservative ward candidate has been delivering a questionnaire to residents to establish poor health believed to be connected to the mast]. SHAM are also concerned about the comulative effect of multiple mobile applications and the doubling of strength of the TETRA equipment and the same omission impact levels this has on residents both near and hundreds of metres from the mast, even if they cannot see it. For more information on TETRA access or .

    4) SHAM want to question the planning process and incorrect/misleading documentation provided to planning committee members by the council. SHAM want to establish what the council is required to do and how, as we have established that the required press notice for the recent TETRA application was undertaken in the Greenwich Time on 10th March 2009, (a whole year to the date the application was considered and approved!). SHAM also wants to know what training councillors are given on the issue of masts so that they properly understand the implications of these structures as we feel some councillors are making decisions without sufficient knowledge.

    With the person who listed the leading article, which is very informative and helpful no name or contact was given so I cannot contact you to personally thank you. Can i also thank Lia and Hilly who responded. I would certainly like to speak to you all and seek your involvement with our SHAM campaign.

    Once we get more residents on board this will enable us to spread the word re SHAM and unlike previous campaigns with the support of the Shooters Hill community we can achieve our ultimate goal and get the mast removed (or at least the equipment removed). So there is light at the end of the mast and with the support of residents and the community change can take place.

    My contact details are: tel 020 7340 7179 –daytime, 020 8854 0352 –evening, mobile 07869 284177. email: or

    Shooters Hill Against Masts – SHAM

  4. After failing in previous attempts to persuade council officials to deny access to Airwaves and the relevant mobile phone companies to install their equipment on this mast, you cannot imagine my relief at seeing the SHAM article appear on your website.

    My family have lived on the Laing Estate for a number of years and enjoyed the peace and tranquility this beautiful oasis has to offer. It has become increasingly infuriating in recent years to witness the continual impairment of our natural environment by the regular addition of telecommunication antennae and dishes, resulting in dangerously high levels of microwave emissions from the TETRA mast situated in the grounds of the Old Fire Station in Eaglesfield Road (as verified by doctors and independent scientists from around the world). It is no fun knowing we are being bombarded 24/7 by these pulsing emissions.

    I would very much like to show my support for this SHAM campaign and would appreciate learning more about it, and will phone the numbers I have seen on the SHAM posters. With enough local people showing a keen interest in this project it might result in pressure being put on our Council’s Area Planning Committee to show more concern for the welfare of residents, rather than commercial companies having a monopoly over us, being rate payers.

    Whilst having no allegiance to any political party until now, I am inspired by the efforts and enthusiasm of Mo Burgess, and her Survey letter in particular deserves everybody’s support. For once someone with a voice on a political platform is willing to help.

  5. yes – good for mo burgess, but her actions, as those of any politician, must be treated with some degree of caution:

    1 – her survey is not scientifically sound, asking people if they feel ill because of the mast is not a reliable or valid source of information.
    2 – so if it’s not scientific, what is it? due to her missing the end of the planning consultation by almost two months, this initiative might be construed as a politically motivated one timed to coincide with the run up to the election.
    3 – note that although she has demonstrated what appears to be a genuine interest in local issues – the same can not be said of her colleagues, i previously examined the online musings of her colleague simon emett following on from a charlton blogger and he seems more interested in gordon brown than shooters hill – so i’m not trying to say all the tories are as interested as she is. their third candidate is a young wine selling biker, apart frmo that I don’t know much about him yet.

    remember we all get three votes in the local election, and there is a list of candidates which includes a green and a nationalist, so we get the full spectrum on offer this time.

  6. thanks for your response. With Mo Burgess the facts are she did attend at Shrewsbury house a meeting we arranged with O2/Airwaves reps in March and was also present at the council meeting re the mast on 10th March, so this isn’t a jump on the bandwagon to get votes and was taking this cause forward long before SHAM started. Can’t say much about her colleagues, but everyone has their own political approaches.

    Yes we all get three votes and of course with any politician things must be treated with some degree of caution, but I would certainly back Mo Burgess as I don’t see anyone from labour or the other parties representing us re this local issue with the mast, and she would certainly give us a voice within the council as hopefully she could get a position on the planning committee if some potential resignations materialise.

  7. The third Conservative Candidate is Richard Chandler who is actually a Trainee Accountant with the NHS and a graduate from Nottingham Univercity. He has been out canvassing and leafletting with me since last August when he was selected. I am not jumping on any band wagon. I attended both planning meetings and argued with Airwaves at their consultation meeting. I have been working with Margaret Foster for two years and learning as much as I can about the masts. I am passionate about Shooters Hill (which is why I am standing as a Councillor here) I have lived here for 34 years and raised my children here. My husband died 5 years ago from brain cancer. my letter is to determine if there are any cancer clusters or serious health issues in and around the masts, if there are there is a directive that says “something must be done about it” and that I hope is to get the masts moved to the woods away from the people, as I firmly believe they are dangerous to our health.

    1. welcome maureen, and thanks for setting the record straight on your survey, i take your point about finding cancer clusters as this is one of the approaches being used, i suppose medical statistics for the area are not public, but it would be interesting to compare these records to an area with no masts.

      are you investigating the other masts at all? if so do you know what they all are? i know the ones near the bull pub are something to do with the PLA and a recent addition by 3 (apparently it was their 10,000th mast), and the ones by the gardeners depot in the woods are t-mobile and orange, but the database on sitefinder doesn’t indicate what the one over kenilworth is, or the ones on cleanthus road?

  8. I don’t quite know what point you are making hilly. I also have a mobile phone but have the option of turning it on and off when applicable, and unlike 24/7 TETRA emissions which are more invasive, my mobile phone doesn’t cause night time depletion of melatonin from my body.

    1. the technicalities of radio frequency (RF) interference in cell biology are complex and subject to many different types of signal: as it stands, GSM usage (for both handsets and base stations) is currently under heavy scrutiny, and has been implicated in adverse health effects, UMTS (3G) is being likened to TETRA, WiFi is also under heavy criticism (especially since many people leave their WiFi routers on permanently) – To that end, is the campaign against all masts or just the TETRA one, in which case shouldn’t it be renamed Shooters Hill Against TETRA, although the acronym doesn’t have such a good ‘ring’ to it?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.