Tuesday November 20, 2012

Impact of exclusion zones policies on siting base stations: Australian case study analysis

This report presents the results of a modeling analysis of the impacts of planning-based exclusion zones on the ability to site mobile communication base stations. In the context of mobile communications infrastructure deployment planning-based exclusion zones are distance-based restrictions on the siting of base stations sometimes imposed by local governments around community facilities.

The Australia radiofrequency (RF) exposure limits are consistent with international recommendations and there are no mandatory planning exclusion zone policies. The analysis is based on the impacts of a range of hypothetical distances and uses information from public sources on the locations of base stations and community facilities.

The main findings of the analysis include:

  • Across the whole metropolitan area, 54% of all existing radio base stations would be impacted by a 500 m exclusion zone around community facilities (schools, pre-school and medical facilities).
  • In an inner urban suburb an exclusion zone of 500 m around all community facilities would cover nearly 90% of the total geographic area of the suburb, affecting virtually all-existing antennas sites and making it nearly impossible to improve mobile network services.

The many negative consequences mean that distance based planning exclusion zones are not an effective response to community concerns about siting of base stations.

Positive policy responses include adopting science-based exposure limits following the recommendations of the WHO; ensuring compliance with those limits; developing nationally consistent planning policies for base stations and ensuring the public availability of information about radio base stations in a format that is understandable by communities.


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