A mosque in Walthamstow, London has protested plans to put up a new mobile phone mast because it could stop worshippers travelling there by bike.
The Masjid-e-Umer mosque said plans to construct the 50 foot mast next door also caused concerns for “health and safety” and would violate a council policy to encourage more people to cycle.
Yusuf Hansa, chairman of the Waltham Forest Council of Mosques, told the Waltham Forest Guardian: “The mosque has once again received numerous concerns from the local community and neighbours expressing very serious concerns about the mast and its health and safety implications, if permission was granted.
“The trustees feel that there are many alternatives sites available, away from residential areas. It is imperative that the local authority prioritise the health and safety of the community.”
“If the mast is put by a bicycle stand which is used by worshipers and shoppers it will have to be removed. Currently council policy is to encourage the use of bicycles in the area and this will be against this policy,” he added.
Other local residents are also opposing the mast, with Gillian Keith citing fears over “the radiation emitted from these masts” which makes them “potentially dangerous”.
“We don’t want to see the erection of an ugly, imposing, potentially dangerous structure literally on our doorsteps,” she said.
“My partner is with Vodafone and has perfect signal here. Yet ironically, Vodafone is one of the companies proposing to erect the mast. There is no such thing as ‘bad’ signal here in Walthamstow.
“We are told that there are no significant health concerns associated with the radiation emitted from these masts, but most people are sceptical about this. All parents in the neighbourhood have expressed serious concerns for the health of their children and for the school nearby.
“I think it is offensive to everyone in the neighbourhood, including the mosque. It sullies the look of the whole street and the entire intersection.”
The claim that mobile phone mast radiation causes health problems is controversial. In October 2014, the World Health Organisation said that “to date, no adverse health effects have been established as being caused by mobile phone use” and that “research does not suggest any consistent evidence of adverse health effects from exposure to radiofrequency fields at levels below those that cause tissue heating.”
In 2006, one of the houses opposite the mosque was raided by anti-terror police investigating a plot to blow up transatlantic airliners. The raids on various properties across Britain saw 24 men arrested in connection with the plot, of whom six were eventually convicted of conspiracy to murder in separate trials.