Parents remove children from island school over 5G mast

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A couple have removed their three children from school to teach them at home in protest over a 5G mobile phone mast being fitted to their school building.

Russell and Naomi Bremner believe their children Dorothy, ten, Wilbur, nine, and Martha, seven, will be exposed to unnecessary health risks by the trial scheme on Orkney.

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They took them out of the tiny island school Stronsay Junior High – which has just 14 pupils – five weeks ago. The couple, who farm a herd of buffalo on the island, are concerned about the antenna that has been fitted to the school building as part of a BBC plans to deliver live radio broadcasts over a 5G mobile network.

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“My family is my world, and I would never forgive myself if I looked back later in life and asked myself could I have done more to protect them,” said Mr Bremner.

“The community in Stronsay were told this was coming, they were not asked if they wanted it.

“There are some folk on the island that think it’s the most amazing thing in the world, but there are also folk like me that would like to see evidence that there are going to be no additional health risks to my children by the mast being placed on top of the school.”

Twenty households across the island are using special 5G-enabled smartphones to listen live to BBC radio programmes and to access on-demand shows through the BBC Sounds app.

But while the Bremners acknowledge that the community was informed about the coming trial, they claim that parents were never asked for their views.

A spokesperson for Orkney Islands Council (OIC) said: “The Stronsay trial is one of a number taking place across the country to explore the potential of 5G to improve connectivity in remote and rural communities, which currently have little or limited access to broadband and mobile phone networks.

“Information was provided about the 5G equipment and health and safety assessments undertaken before installation. The BBC followed this up by taking EMF [electromagnetic field] readings in the school playground.

“The results were made available on the school website, and showed that the readings were well within published safety guidelines for equipment of this kind.”

Mr Bremner said: “Although OIC claim that they have consulted the community about the trial, that just is not true.”