MOBILE phone masts could be responsible for the mysterious disappearance of millions of house sparrows, according to recently published research.
There were once an estimated 26 million of these ubiquitous birds in Britain but that number has halved in the past 30 years and scientists have so far been unable to come up with a reason for this population crash.
Some causes put forward have included the modern craze for property "make-owners" - because holes under eves have been filled in depriving the birds of their nesting sites - and the growth of domestic cat ownership as dogs lose some of their popularity as pets due to anti-street-fouling laws.
But it was revealed yesterday that scientists at a leading Belgian conservation institute believe that sparrows are being driven away by radiation from mobile phone masts. The scientists researched 150 such masts ands found that the stronger their signal, the fewer sparrows were found in the immediate vicinity.
This is disturbing news for the mobile phone industry - one of the fastest growing businesses in the world - because there are already concerns in some British towns of higher incidents of cancer, particularly amongst children, in families living close to phone masts.