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Concerns raised about 5G advisory panel

New technology: two groups have raised concern about an advisory panel that will make recommendations to the Regulatory Authority on the suitability of 5G technology for the island (Photograph by F Muhammad/Pixabay)

Greenrock and Bermuda Advocates for Safe Technology have raised concerns about the make-up of an advisory panel that will make recommendations to the Regulatory Authority on the suitability of 5G broadband mobile technology for the island.

In a joint statement they said: “We are deeply concerned with the lack of representation from several key areas, including health and environment.”

The two groups said the panel was heavily weighted with industry professionals.

“In the interest of keeping our communities safe, it is necessary for public health to be well represented on the advisory panel. We recognise Dr [Carika] Weldon’s substantial credentials, however, we would also like to see the involvement of an expert in epidemiology or toxicology,” the statement said.

“The panel also lacks representation from our environmental groups or professionals from our environmental departments. Having a diverse panel, which includes independent health and safety experts, is of paramount importance to arriving at policy designed to deliver the best possible outcome for our people, something that we will be challenged to achieve should we rely solely on professionals from within the industry.”

Greenrock and BAST also expressed concern that Rodney Croft is on the panel, as it considered that to be a “clear conflict of interest”.

The joint statement said Telstra, Australia’s largest telecommunications company, funds the Australian Centre for Electromagnetic Bioeffects Research, of which Dr Croft is a director. It also noted that Dr Croft is chairman of the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection, and said: “Recent reports clearly outline examples of ICNIRP ignoring science, which has proven the harmful effects of radio frequencies and electronmagntic fields, in favour of persisting with safety limits, that according to independent scientists and health experts, no longer protect public health”.

Greenrock and BAST encouraged the RA to remove Dr Croft from the advisory panel. In addition, the groups called for the RA to share the advisory panel’s recommendations, once made, with other “key policymakers” to make a collective decision. The statement said: “With this in mind, we strongly urge the RA to collaborate with the Ministry of Health, the Environmental Health Unit, and the Department of Planning, when determining whether 5G technology is truly appropriate for Bermuda and its people.”

Speaking with The Royal Gazette before the Greenrock/BAST statement was released, Denton Williams, chief executive of the RA, said the Authority had been looking to create an advisory board comprising of local representation and from other large jurisdictions that “had either navigated some of these issues already or are strong business partners for Bermuda as a jurisdiction – who we potentially have to be compatible with.”

He added: “We did have difficulty raising local participants. We were trying to get more medical representation, and we did not get as many as we would like to have. We did reach out to some very high-level public health experts, and we did attempt to solicit participation.”

The RA is gathering feedback from the public on radiofrequency and 5G safety during a consultation period that started on October 23 ends on December 7. As part of its consultation, the RA will hear from a six-person independent advisory panel. The RA’s public consultation document can be viewed at www.ra.bm

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Published November 12, 2020 at 7:19 pm (Updated November 12, 2020 at 7:25 pm)

Concerns raised about 5G advisory panel

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