DM issues guidelines for telecom stations, towers

Filed on December 11, 2013

All new mobile towers and masts need to meet guidelines on distance from educational institutions and health facilities, exposure limits of radiation.

The Dubai Municipality (DM) has issued new guidelines to minimise the health and environmental impact of mobile phone base stations and towers. All new mobile towers and masts need to meet the new guidelines, including those on the distance from educational institutions and health facilities, and safe exposure limits of electromagnetic radiation emission.

“We have released a comprehensive guide that covers all aspects of telecom towers, including their design, selection of site, installation and operation, requirements to get environmental permission in addition to the safe exposure limits for electromagnetic radiation frequencies,” said Hind Mahmoud, Head of Environmental Studies and Planning Section of Environment Department at DM.

“We have also held a technical meeting with telecom companies to inform them the most important requirements and environmental standards that must be taken into account when selecting sites of wireless communication stations and towers.”

As per the new guidelines, telecom operators — Etisalat and Du — must conduct a preliminary field study about a proposed site for erecting the masts before they approach the authorities for approval. “They need to get an environmental permit, which now covers more clauses than earlier. The procedures for the initial evaluation of the construction sites will ensure that the communication stations and towers don’t negatively impact the environment and public health.”

She clarified that the permit will not be granted if the stations and towers impact air routes, heritage sites or natural reserves, in cases of which approvals need to be taken from other entities like the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority and the Architectural Heritage Department.

The meeting also discussed the mechanisms to enhance cooperation and coordination between the parties to realize the vision of sustainability in the emirate. “We are encouraging the telecom operators to share same towers wherever they can so that we can minimise the number of towers in particular areas.”

She also stressed the need to comply with all environmental standards contained in the technical guide, which has been developed in accordance with best international practices and standards of the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP).

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