4,000 illegal cellphone masts in doubt after ruling

Campaigners said yesterday that a decision by the Council of State to rule every cellphone transmitter erected before 2002 illegal had paved the way for people to sue mobile phone companies, while firms warned their industry could suffer due to the ruling. «This decision creates a legal framework that can operate as a ‘legal compass’ which can then lead to illegal masts being taken down following relevant lawsuits,» Costas Diakos, the lawyer for the Attica committee against mobile phone masts, told Kathimerini. The Council of State, Greece’s highest administrative court, was hearing complaints by residents from Vyronas, in eastern Athens, who were trying to prevent a cellphone mast being set up near a local school. In a decision made public on Tuesday, the court deemed the mast illegal and ruled that any transmitters installed before 2002 were also illegal because they were erected without proper environmental impact studies having been completed. The court also said masts should not be placed within 300 meters of schools or hospitals. The decision raises questions over the status of some 4,000 masts and, in a joint statement, four cellphone companies were quick to point out that the transmitters fully complied with the law when installed. The firms, Vodafone, TIM, CosmOTE and Q-Telecom said that decision would place serious obstacles in the growth of the cellphone industry, which, they said, was responsible for 2.2 percent of Greece’s GDP.

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