Cities fighting cellphone antennas

Ra'anana, Herzliya and Ramat Gan have appealed to the Supreme Court against the government and several cellphone companies.

The cities of Ra'anana, Herzliya and Ramat Gan have appealed to the Supreme Court against the government and several cellphone companies in an attempt to enable the public to object to the placing of antennas and to issue lawsuits over any reduction in property values caused by antennas, reports The three local authorities, together with the Center for Local Government, lodged their action against the government's legal advisers and against the Cellcom, Pelephone, Partner and Mirs companies in the Supreme Court last week. According to the report, the local authorities say the government and the cellphone companies are acting in breach of the law and of previous court decisions by not treating cellphone antennas like other building matters and requiring that building permits be obtained for their construction. They say that as well as breaking the law, the government and the companies are damaging the basic democratic rights of the general public to be informed, to object, and to protect property from damage. The cities are asking the court to order the government and the companies to justify why local authorities should be prevented, as they currently are, from taking legal action against cellphone companies that build antennas without a permit and from tearing down such antennas. They also want to know why the government does not act to enforce the law and to ensure that antennas have building permits. The authorities also asked the court to issue an injunction to prevent any new antennas from being built without permits until the court case is heard. No response and no date for a hearing were reported. In a separate article, reports that Herzliya has by far the highest concentration of cellphone antennas of any city in the Sharon area, while Ra'anana has the lowest. The figures, from the Ministry for Environmental Protection, show that Herzliya has one antenna for every 901 residents in the city, while Ra'anana has one antenna for every 1,355 residents. According to the report, the ministry found that the number of antennas across Israel rose from 1,998 in 2003 to 2,891 in 2007, a rise of 50 percent. With Israel's population at 7.3 million, this makes one antenna for every 2,500 people. The ministry's breakdown for the Sharon area showed that: Herzliya, with 92,000 residents, has 102 antennas, one for every 901 residents; Hod Hasharon, with 46,000 residents, has 48 antennas, one for every 958 residents; Ramat Hasharon, with 47,000 residents, has 49 antennas, one for every 959 residents; Kfar Saba, with 90,000 residents, has 76 antennas, one for every 1,184 residents; and Ra'anana, with 80,000 residents, has 59 antennas, one for every 1,355 residents. A senior ministry official said that despite the public's objections to antennas, it was preferable to have a larger number of antennas in municipal areas as this reduced the size of the cell served by each antenna and thus reduced the amount of radiation emanating from it. He said studies had shown that it was preferable to be close to an antenna serving a small cell than to be further from an antenna serving a large cell.