Friday, May 18, 2007
Consternation reigns. Over the past few weeks there has been much discussion and debate, recriminations and disaccord in the village.
A temporary mobile phone mast has appeared about 200m from the houses, and the installation of a permanent one started. And stopped. By the judicious placement of tractors. And a hitherto unkown type of French legal person called a "huissier", which is apparently some kind of bailiff.
The local council have been happy to sell the little patch of land and give permission to install the thing up until now. And then one of the holiday-home visitors turned up and took a different view.
Since then we've had several meetings, an association has been formed, two articles in the local papers, and a petition started. And the work stopped, as I said. In terms of campaigning, this seems pretty good.
But there has been a fair bit of fall-out too. Public arguments between family members, tears amongst the families of local councillors, and lots of people turning away from the issue as a result.
This kind of process seems to be the way of things in France. No prior consultation. People wake up and find something's happened that they know nothing about. No time to find information, no time express an opinion, the panic is on to mobilise and demonstrate. Then the bad feeling, inconvenience and inertia start to kick in. And there's a very rapid demobilisation. The protestors back down, and the deed is done and put down to experience.
Bullying, imposing, destructive and unpleasant.
We're in the middle of the process, and maybe my theory will not apply this time.
But I've been digging around beyond the headlines on the issues of microwaves and their effects and have concluded that:
There isn't proof yet of direct links to cancers or other illnesses.
There IS proof of various biological effects of mobile phones, mobile phone masts, TV masts and wireless networks on the human body, including non-thermal effects at low intensity.
I recognise some of the symptoms in our experience here over the past year.
The international guidelines for public protection only deal with thermal effects.
Around the world, various public authorities are adopting the precautionary principle, and recommending or requiring a zone of 300 m to 500 m between mobile phone masts and schools, hospitals, houses and workplaces.
I want to see that applied here.
My wireless router is going and a non-wireless modem is coming.
In the meantime I'm using my router for three short periods a day.
If the mast stays, then we will go somewhere a bit further away.
With a little help from our friends in Portsmouth - those of the donkey riding fame - we have successfully started Samb Massif, one of the two new Batala kids on the block. Four rehearsals later, we're having a lot of fun and it sounds pretty good to me. We're hoping to confirm our first gig at Blesle when the organisers come and see us rehearse sometime in the next few weeks. that'll be at their 'Aperos musicales' on 14th August.
The other new kid on the block is in Washington DC, where I passed some interesting time while involved with the MASSE project.