Comment A group of tinfoil-hatted wackos have held a public meeting to talk about the dangers of “electromagnetic fields” and demand 5G mobile network rollouts are halted. Unfortunately for the Great British Public, those moonhowlers are elected Members of Parliament.
In what has to be one of the most surreal Westminster Hall debates in the Parliamentary record, a small number of MPs gathered to rail against the rollout and demand that it be halted immediately.
The debate was led by Tonia Antoniazzi, the MP for Wales' Gower peninsula and the surrounding area. The Gower is well known for its pleasant views across the Bristol Channel and its sandy, family-friendly beaches. Until today, it was not known as a hotbed of Luddite views.
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Echoing decades-old concerns about the effects of mobile spectrum RF radiation on human health – concerns that have long since been put to bed – Antoniazzi said: “We need to apply the precautionary principle when we look at anything.”
She then went on to complain that Public Health England, the multi-billion-pound government agency in charge of the sugar tax, of brushing her off.
"They have responded with their standard reply, which includes them saying that they have thoroughly assessed the evidence in the 2012 report* by the Independent Advisory Group on Non-ionising Radiation," Antoniazzi wailed. Apparently the WHO classified all RF emissions as "possible human carcinogens", in the Labour MP's words.
Will the Minister commit to ensuring that Public Health England informs people on its website and in leaflets, communications and presentations that all radio frequency signals are a possible human carcinogen?
She continued in this vein for quite some time, repeatedly saying "wireless signals are a possible human carcinogen" and lambasting "Public Health England and the Department of Health and Social Care [for having] prevented the UK public from living and working in safe environments."
Perhaps she was thinking of the old #SheepNeedTwitter campaign? Mind you, that was an anti-ovine discrimination initiative aimed at extending broadband into sheep-containing areas of the UK, so maybe not.
Geraint Davies, MP for the neighbouring constituency of Swansea, chipped in. Without citing any source or reference, he claimed that "4G has the same carbon footprint as all of aviation," claimed 5G would have a larger one and then linked mobile spectrum RF emissions to having "a detrimental impact on insect life, which is decreasing globally at 2.5 per cent per year."
Another Labour MP, Jim Cunningham, gently tried to rein in his two colleagues. He asked Antoniazzi: "Is there any evidence that electromagnetic fields can affect the behaviour of animals?"
The honourable member for the Gower replied: "I cannot quote from it now, but I have read about it. We must remember that animals do not use screens, but there is evidence of the impact on them of electromagnetic fields from things such as smartphones and 5G."
"Is my honourable friend aware of the concern that 5G cannot penetrate trees and that, as a result, we are looking at the destruction of thousands and thousands of trees?" Davies pressed, querying: "How can we possibly be serious about our ambitions for zero carbon if we are destroying the trees and have this huge carbon footprint? It does not add up and is clearly environmentally ridiculous."
SNP spokesman Martyn Day MP agreed with Antoniazzi, while politely pointing out that "the evidence so far seems to show that electromagnetic fields do not have detrimental health impacts." He must have realised that a Westminster Hall debate has no power to create or amend laws and decided to humour a potential political ally, should the current Conservative government fall in the near future. ®
* Archived here