surinenglish

Frigiliana town hall votes to take action over controversial phone mast after 20 years of protests

The mast was installed more than 20 years ago.
The mast was installed more than 20 years ago. / E. Cabezas
  • Previous administrations ignored residents' calls for the structure to be taken down, despite a number of cancer cases thought to be linked to its presence

During its last plenary session in April, Frigiliana town hall voted to start judicial proceedings against the two mobile phone operators that use a mast situated in the historic centre of the village.

The structure is situated in the grounds of the village's public nursery and is also very close to other public buildings including the health centre, library and Casa de la Cultura cultural centre.

Protests and petitions

The mast, which is used by mobile phone companies Orange and Vodafone, was installed in 1999 for a period of 50 years. However, it has been the subject of criticism and protests by residents in the village who believe that more than 20 cases of cancer have been caused by the mast's presence since it was installed. In 2014 a petition with 500 signatures asking for the council to remove it was delivered to the town hall by angry residents.

The town hall receives 6,500 euros per year in rent from the companies and previous administrations have failed to act on the residents' protests.

A former mayor, Javier López, claimed that emissions from the mast fell "within the limits given by the ministry for industry". However, current mayor, Alejandro Herrero, said after the plenary session that it wasn't "just a matter of health" but that the mast needs to be relocated for "aesthetic reasons", adding, "We can't have that structure in the middle of the village, with those dimensions."

The town hall says it is looking at alternative locations for the mast, with councillors voting for it to be at least 200 metres away from public spaces. The mayor has also said that the council is prepared to pay up to 50,000 euros towards the cost of moving it to a different location.