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September 2016

Every time I look at the mobile phone (non) coverage in our area I am reminded of the campaign stirred up 10 years ago by some villagers who wanted a phone mast anywhere but near their homes. These SAME villagers are now complaining about the fact that they can't use any of the latest gadgets in their homes, dog walkers and other cannot get in touch with the emergency services in case of accident and Horsted Keynes is generally still in the electronic dark ages!

Remember because the nearest mast is so far away EVERY mobile call from this area is made at the highest power that your phone can generate. That's extra battery usage and, rather more important, extra RF energy going through your brain! A check on brain cancer rates in this area compared with one with a good mobile service might be extremely revealing - but I digress.

So a full 10 years after the event I wondered if anyone would now stand up and admit to being one of the organisers of the "Not in my back yard" campaign and if their views had changed over the past years?

Remember that Martindale meeting when Orange were treated rather as a Rolf Harris concert might be today?

In the mean time read on for some of the history...

 Map showing the approximate position of where the now defunct Orange mobile 'phone
mast was to have been positioned. In late 2016 there are plans to turn the area into a housing estate - no mobile coverage of course!

Orange Mobile Communications have applied to build a mobile 20 Metre high mast on land to the South West of the village on the road to Lindfield.

Unsurprisingly Orange have lost the first stage of their planning application to place a mast near the village. We rather doubt that this will be the last of it though. Look out for an appeal in the near future. Apparently two people wrote in support of the application. As your webmaster did not write in himself that makes at least three people in the village who think it mightn't be such a bad idea!

We would welcome views both for and anti, but particularly against the site to balance the argument if you'd care to send them in.

Orange have updated their application to enlarge the site. The reason for this would seem to be so that the Horsted Keynes mast would become a hub instead of being at the end of a line of transmitters because of the Balcome mast falling through. This would involve putting several extra equipment bays together with an extra "satellite dish". We will try to find in which directions the dishes are pointing and report back as soon as possible. In the mean time we welcome your considered views and to start the ball rolling your webmaster has published what may well be his controversial view below. Please let us know whether you agree or disagree.


As you will know at HorstedKeynes.Com we like to try to be impartial and show both sides of any argument. A great deal of controversy is being made by some objectors about the Orange mast application. Your webmaster is a qualified electronics engineer and as such I have my own views about whether the mast should be allowed to go ahead or not. You on the other hand may very well disagree with the following and you are welcome, indeed we would be delighted, if you would write in to let us have your views on the matter, both agreeing and disagreeing. We promise to publish as many of these as we can fit in. At least let us air both sides of the argument. Also please note whilst I am criticising the reasons for the objections I am not criticising the objectors themselves. We are all allowed to have our views in this Country (well most of them anyway) so let’s try to keep to the subject and not get personal. Personal attacks will not be published.

COMMENT 15 July 2006

What follows is the personal view of your webmaster. I have university qualifications in electronics subjects based on frequency hopping radar which is an R.F. technology not dissimilar to cellular telephony.

We have all received leaflets protesting about the Orange mobile mast application. Written by well meaning but in my opinion poorly informed local residents who are making some statements which are not based on scientific fact but are in many cases lifted from scaremonger websites.

I live with my family and two children less than 250 Metres from the proposed Orange mast and sleep there every night (unlike some villagers ;-). In fact we will be the second or third closest property if the mast is built. I am not in the slightest bit worried by the application! I urge you to read my views and then not worry either. If we protest at every technological intervention then we stand a good chance of a site being imposed on the village, a site which is dangerous!

I am not being paid by anyone to publish my views here, but have always thought that the scaremongering associated with cellular phone development to be overstressed. I always said that if a mast were planned near my home I would examine its possible effects and then do my best to set the record straight, one way or the other. This I am trying to do here.

Please note, I said CELLULAR development. My comments must not in any way be associated with the development of the new civil police and fire brigade TETRA masts which are a different matter entirely. If a new TETRA mast were planned for the area I would be at the top of the list of objectors! Fortunately (or not) Horsted Keynes is already well covered by an existing TETRA mast at West Hoathly as well as the smaller masts in Haywards Heath so development in that direction is highly unlikely. The TETRA scheme is in my opinion very poorly thought out and its masts are in many cases downright dangerous. They operate with a modulation that directly affects mammalian brain tissue! So I am commenting here of cellular masts only!

I am also only really addressing the main technical issues; whether an Orange mast is a thing of beauty or a blot on the landscape I will leave to others better qualified than I to decide.

I also accept that once Orange get “their foot in the door” and build a mast it is possible that other cellular operators will try to put up masts too. I’m afraid that this is how Britain is developing and if you follow my reasoning about transmission powers near to the brain I hope that you might welcome (or at least accept) this. The “not in my back yard” excuse is not going to work in the New Labour Britain of 2006!

So why do I think that cellular masts are not dangerous per se, and why do I think that in the correct place they should be encouraged? I will list my points in my order of relevance for you to wade through with the most important at the end. If however you only have time to scan please at the very least read my final point before moving on, I think that you will be astounded when you do!

When you use a mobile phone you hold it to your ear, which is by definition close to your brain. Cellular phones differ from all other forms of personal communication in that they self adjust their output power depending on how far they are from the nearest base station. Let’s take an example of a child making an Orange call today outside the Post Office in Horsted Keynes. Their phone will have to transmit at a power that can reach the nearest Orange mast which is at present on top of the old Co-Op building in Haywards Heath. To get a signal this far the phone will transmit at its absolute flat out maximum power. The signal is transmitted equally in all directions remember so that while some will reach Haywards Heath some will be absorbed by the child's brain, and the rest lost “in the ether” adding to general electromagnetic pollution. In fact their brain will warm up by a measurable amount during the call! That is why the Government recommend that children don’t make long mobile calls. I agree, in fact I recommend that nobody makes long calls when far away from a transmitter!

On the other hand if Orange had activated the mast near the village then that same child’s call would have been adjusted by the phone to less than 100th of, and possibly 1000th of the power of the Haywards Heath call. Less energy into the environment and far less energy into your child’s head! That is the main reason why the more masts there are the better as far as I am concerned. In fact one proponent of cellular technology suggested that the ideal place for mobile masts should be on top of schools! Yes, it takes a bit of getting your head round but as children will use mobiles whatever we do to stop them it is best that as little power as possible is used for each call - think about it! Remember cellular masts only transmit on most of the channels when a call is actually in progress so just because a mast is there does not mean that it is being used. In fact most "cells" are idle for much of the time.

Next to some of the points made in the objectors leaflets. First that there is nothing in the area that is 20 metres high. (I know I said above that visual impact wasn’t my area of expertise but I can still hold a view!) What about trees? There are plenty of trees that exceed 20 metres, some in the same field! There is also mention of a “humming noise”. Well if you were to hold your ear up to the cabinet I suppose you would hear something but it will be impossible to get near enough anyway as there has to be a fence in the way. Have you been near a wind farm? They are truly dreadful and can be heard miles away, but we are talking here of cooling fans like on your computer at home not a huge generator plant. I suppose what I am trying to say is throwing such minor objections into the pot isn’t going to sway the planning committee and might well distract from more serious relevant objections.

Choice of site. The objectors say that no other sites have been considered. Oh yes they have! They are clearly shown on the original planning application together with the reasons for their dismissal. From memory there are half a dozen rejected sites on the plan each explained in detail. In fact the real reason for Orange wanting to use the particular hill that is proposed is that the mast isn't really to cover the village of Horsted Keynes at all! If you look at a topographic map of the area you will see that part of the main London to Brighton rail line is in direct line of sight from that hill. That is where the customers are, that is where the money is, that is where the main signal will be pointing! That is why the mast will have three "aerials" so that the engineers can aim much of the signal away from the village!

Further more you will know that a mast application has recently been blocked in Balcombe. This is the reason for the extra dish and extra cabinets in the renewed Horsted Keynes application. All cellular masts rely on others to form a cell which is why the local mast will now have an extra "satellite dish". Incidentally, to cross the t's and dot the i's I would point out that the three "satellite dishes" operate at a different frequency to the rest of the system but these will transmit and receive in tight "beams" which will by definition point away from any property as they work on a strictly line of sight basis.

Despite the forgoing, what better place for a mast than in the corner of a field? It’s not like many other Orange masts on top of a pole outside of someone’s bedroom window (as in East Grinstead). Yes Orange have made some serious errors with the siting of some of their other masts, but the site proposed here is not in my opinion too bad (and to repeat it’s within sight of, and only a couple of hundred metres away from my and my families home). I am quite literally standing up for what I believe in!

The whole point that I am trying to make is that yes there are probably better places for an Orange mast but this site is far better than it could be. Make such a huge fuss about this position and you risk some sort of compulsory purchase and the sighting of the mast in a far, far worse location. A mast will be installed somewhere in the area sooner or later, we should be grateful for the present site!

Now the final point that I wish to make, in fact it is THE point that I wish you to remember so I have left it until last! It's a bit technical but please try to work with me - you will be astounded if you do!

Many villagers now have small DECT phones at home. There are the simple wireless home phones that come in pairs or sets of three or four and plug into the home phone line at a base station with small hand held phones elsewhere giving you the opportunity to make calls from just about anywhere in your home and garden. Many people put one of these phones beside their bed.

Did you know that these DECT phones operate on the same frequency as Orange phones? Did you know that DECT phones transmit all the time whether a call is being made or not? Did you know that DECT phones use precisely the same modulation as Orange masts? And finally, did you know that the DECT phones in your home put out signals that are when their closer distance is taken into account at least ten times the strength of the combined signals that we will all receive from a typical Orange mast?

Let me say that again, lying in bed say half a metre from your DECT phone you are getting all the time, all night, radio frequency signals that are the same as but ten times the power of the signals that we will get from the Orange mast when it is actually carrying a call! In this case "we" are one of the nearest houses to the mast - you will get even less radiation from Orange so for your DECT phone it may well be twenty or thirty times the "Orange" mast's power!

If cellular masts and in particular Orange masts are so dangerous, why are you not already suffering from nose bleeds, headaches, restless sleep, even cancer, which the leaflet says that the mast will give you? After all many of you actually leave your DECT phone even closer, perhaps inches from your head all night.

Incidentally if you are astounded by the above and want proof just look at the plate on your home DECT phone. Somewhere it will state the frequency which is 1800MHz, sometimes shown as 1.8GHz. That’s precisely the same frequency band as the proposed local Orange mast. Please think about it!

If you want to ban Orange masts then you must remove all the DECT phones from your home - NOW!

You will notice that I have deliberately not quoted from any web site when arguing the above. I could quote from sites that back up my statements but I have learnt that anyone can write anything on the internet (indeed as I am writing this ;-). If I quote from a web site, the opponents of the mast can easily quote from a site saying the opposite. This argument should be decided on scientific facts, not web sites! I am also amazed how often web sites "revise" their wording. It's all semantics of course but one Government sponsored site has recently altered several paragraphs to make DECT phone appear safer. Perhaps word is getting out!

Finally, finally! There are signs around the village saying that one should "Site Masts Safely". What could be safer than in the corner of a field more than 100 metres from any property and a quarter mile from the village proper? Perhaps they should say "Site masts anywhere as long as I can still use my mobile - but not in my village"!

Robert Philpot.

Webmaster hat back on now! If you agree or disagree with the above PLEASE drop us an email. We will publish it on this page. Please say if we may use your name or not, it does not matter to us as long as your comment is relevant. Anonymous personal attacks will NOT be published.


Villagers will be aware that mobile phone coverage in this area is somewhat variable, indeed the only system that can be relied upon is the O2 network which works O.K. in most parts of the village as it operates at a different frequency to the opposition.

Residents will also be aware that Orange recently applied to install a new mast in the area, ostensibly to serve our village, but in fact designed to fill in a small gap in their coverage of the main London to Brighton railway line. This application met with the usual ill informed resistance and suggestions that it would lead to all sorts of maladies in local children, and even give some people nose bleeds!

As many will also be aware your webmaster – who has a knowledge of electronic engineering – strongly disagreed with these anti views and in fact suggested that putting in a new mast would be a good thing. In the end the objectors won and the proposal was rejected although other nearby villages did have new Orange masts installed.

Now Orange didn't give up as they still needed to increase their coverage in this part of Sussex so we were not surprised to receive a number of text messages recently saying that coverage in this area had been substantially improved. When we checked the field strength it was clear that the signal level of the Orange mobile signal had indeed increased by several hundred percent; the signal level meter on our Orange phone has changed from showing no bars to four bars quite literally overnight!

So what have Orange done and how? Quite simply they have increased the power level of some of their other transmitters in the area by a substantial amount. This is perhaps unfortunate as some of these nearby transmitters are located very close to homes right in the heart of residential areas. The Horsted Keynes transmitter was to be sited 100 metres from the nearest property (and 200 metres from your webmasters' home) which seems much better than being outside a child's bedroom window.

Orange now share their sites with Vodafone so it is quite possible that new transmitters have been put in as well. That is really good as in some places it saves extra masts being built. Interestingly the Orange coverage map shows no alterations around here, either now or for the future!

So Horsted Keynes residents have improved mobile coverage but those in nearby areas have had their radiation dose increased. The moral? Don't take on the mobile phone companies, they won't lose there is just too much money to be made from mobile phones and mobile Broadband!

n.b. (Your webmaster is now putting his technical hat on for a couple of paragraphs.) If you are affected by this then I am sorry to tell you that there is little that you can do. When a mobile phone mast is authorised there is a stated maximum power level that the provider may use. The mobile companies always ask for a level that is considerably higher than they actually need - it saves them having to go back for a change of permission if circumstances change and it's always good to leave some power in hand for contingencies. All that Orange have done is increase the power output of their other masts to rather nearer the maximum authorised - they may also be expected to have "tweaked" their aerial systems a little too. That is why it's called "cellular telephony" the cells can be made larger and smaller as required.

It's all perfectly legal - and still reasonably safe but if we in Horsted Keynes had accepted the new mast we would be sharing the radiation instead of making our neighbours take it all. If we want mobile phones then it seems only fair that we share the radiation as well! R.P.

Hat off now, please let us have your views on this matter.



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