Court rules phone towers environmentally dangerous

The Swedish Environmental Court of Appeals has ruled that the operation of third generation mobile phone antennas constitutes and environmentally dangerous activity.

The classification as “environmentally dangerous” did not require that the radiation was proven to cause environmental damage, but rather recognised that it was considered to be a risk to the environment.

In making this assessment, the court referred to studies that show evidence of potentially dangerous biological effects. Another factor influencing the judgement was that the antennas cause “dread” in nearby residents, which it considered to be against the law.

The court’s decision followed a long-standing controversy on the issue. The council of Miljnden requested mobile phone company Swedish UMTS-NET provide information about the location of the antennas to monitor what they considered environmentally dangerous activities. The phone company successfully challenged the classification in the local environmental court. The council then appealed to the Swedish Environmental Court of Appeals which supported its classification of environmentally dangerous for the telecommunications facilities.

The decision means that the local council must monitor the antennas and that the operator must support its efforts to do so. It also means that future antennas will require planning permission from council.

(Case M7485-05, 12.10.05.)