A French court has ordered this unprecedented measure to determine whether the 4G cell phone tower is harming the health of nearby cows.
Reportedly, the animals have been feeding less, suffering from diseases, and producing less milk since its installation, according to their owners.
Frédéric Salgues, a farmer in Haute-Loire, can see what he believes is the cause of his cows’ problems less than 300 meters away on the other side of the small road that winds along with his property, a short distance from the town of Mazeyrat-d’Allier, in the Haute-Loire department: a cell phone tower commissioned by Orange on June 28, 2021.
“I can see from my tractor that they are all skin and bones. It’s enough to make you cry.” Salgues said.
After Salgues said he feared it was harming his herd’s health, the administrative court in Clermont-Ferrand (Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes) ordered the switch-off.
The court said that “it is appropriate to order the temporary cessation of the operation of this antenna for a period of two months, taking into account its general impact, with monitoring, by the judicial expert, of the behaviour of the herd, and of the dairy cows in particular, during this period”.
Orange now has three months to comply with the order, which includes shutting down the antenna while guaranteeing phone connectivity, including emergency calls, for Orange customers in the impacted area.
Standing in front of his herd of Prim’Holsteins, the black and white cows that are champions of milk productivity, Mr. Salgues was distressed. “They are all thin,” he said. “They don’t get up at night to eat, and they hardly drink at all. And this one, which stays completely still with her jaw stuck on the side and her head down, you can see this is not normal behavior!” Then he added, “These cows, they are sad.”
The goal is to conduct an expert assessment in order to “establish a potential causal link between the behavior of the cattle and this antenna,” according to the administrative court. “A significant drop in the quality and quantity of milk produced, a serious disruption in the herd’s behavior and voluntary denutrition, and abnormally high deaths” are among the issues highlighted.
After the decision, Mr. Salgues told the AFP that he hoped his cows would be able to “recover as soon as possible” and called the case ruling “a major relief and a victory”.