Asthetics and appearance, Ideology, Local Impacts, Nimbyism, Planning consent, Science, Site location, Surface Impacts, Technology

“Dear Aunty, have we seen unfounded scare stories and pseudo-science used to protest any other developments in the recent past – like we now see with shale gas?”

Well, yes, as a matter of fact, we have dears.

The type of development in question met with fierce opposition across the UK, with those objecting to it claiming that it was responsible for breast cancer clusters, unexplained nosebleeds and headaches, motor neurone disease – even skin cancer – and a whole host of other health problems poppets.

All the while, evidence from respected independent bodies such as the World Health Organisation (WHO) supported the case of the developers – that the technology was safe and that it wasn’t responsible for the health concerns being attributed to it.

Opponents denounced the science at every turn, often questioning its independence and, in turn, producing their own studies that supported their position. Objectors used emotive, alarmist language, drawing on asbestos and smoking analogies and using phrases such as “as residents, we do not want to be the human guinea pigs.”

Sounds just like the situation we have today doesn’t it, only this time it’s shale gas and fracking.

So, what exactly was this nationwide development that caused such anxiety in Britain?

Mobile phone masts.

It seems like a lifetime ago now, doesn’t it cherubs? And yet, as recently as 2006, the Daily Mail featured this article on the subject claiming that a mobile mast in Stoke-on-Trent was responsible for 27 deaths http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-415758/Mobile-phone-mast-caused-27-deaths-say-residents.html

Now, though, mobile phone masts are as ubiquitous as the mobile phones, tablets and other communications devices that rely on them, sweeties.

Mobile phones have revolutionised our work and our lives. They’ve made it easier for us to keep in touch, and made business communications much slicker – aiding economic growth.

They’ve also saved lives – it’s much easier to call for emergency help now than at anytime in human history owing to the prevalence of mobile phones.

In fact, the societal advantages can’t be overstated dears.

And what happened to all the health concerns? Well, experience has proved them to be erroneous and unfounded over time.

As with shale gas extraction today, the driver behind the anti-mobile mast campaign was a fear of the unknown when something new appeared – with a dash of Nimbyism thrown-in by those who simply thought the masts were visually intrusive and probably a smidgeon of anti-capitalist sentiment.

Eventually, good sense prevailed and people saw through the scare stories and pseudo-science put about by the vocal minority of people opposed to mobile masts.

Another 10 years from now, once British communities have lived safely alongside sensible shale gas development, I think we’ll see that history repeated dears.

Until next time xxx

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