Mobile masts on churches plan

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The Independent Online

They were built to make worshippers feel closer to God. But now church spires are to bring ordinary mortals together... on mobile phones.

They were built to make worshippers feel closer to God. But now church spires are to bring ordinary mortals together... on mobile phones.

In an age when the latest mobile phone jingle is as familiar as was the sound of pealing bells to past generations, the church may yet have a part to play in the technological age.

They are likely to be called upon to house the latest in new transmitters - hi-tech strips that can be miraculously concealed in tall buildings.

Officials working for Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott's environment department believe the new strips are the answer to the threat posed to the countryside from ugly mobile phone masts.

Conservationists are not the only ones complaining about the staggering 20,000 masts that have sprouted up across the British landscape. That figure will continue to grow with the insatiable demand for mobile phones.

The new hi-tech strips, which are thought to be under development by the industry, can pick up signals from a variety of mobile phone networks. And they blend in with their environment.

Easily concealed against buildings, the only stipulation is that they have to be high up - and that is where the church spires come in.

It is uncertain whether the new generation of transmitters will be able to allay public fears about the health risk from mobile phones themselves or from the pulse radiation used in the digital signals sent by the phone masts.

Such fears have lead to campaigners calling for masts to be banned from schools, hospitals and old people's homes.

It is only to be hoped that the advanced technology will remove the health risk or 21st century Britain will be no place for the church-goer.

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