Elon Musk’s Starlink system is designed to bring the internet to the farthest reaches of the globe, and so far, it’s off to a great start. Starlink beta users currently residing in rural areas in the United States have praised the satellite-based system, noting that it is superior to alternatives presently available on the market. For some residents in France, however, the idea of Starlink is worth resisting.
To accomplish its worldwide internet connectivity goals, SpaceX needs to build a network of ground stations that link Starlink’s satellites to the internet’s physical backbone. Among the locations proposed for such a station is Saint-Senier-de-Beuvron, a village in France located less than 12 miles (20km) from the Mont Saint-Michel World Heritage Site. The area only has about 350 residents, but they have voiced their opposition to the Starlink site.
In a statement to the Agence France-Presse (AFP), Francois Dufour, a retired farmer and Greens council member, argued that the facility might present risks for residents in the area. The Greens council member argued that the dangers of factors such as electromagnetic waves are something that residents have experienced in the past.
“The risks from electromagnetic waves is something we’ve already seen with high-voltage power lines, which have disturbed lots of farmers in the area. Social networks, internet – they already exist. Why do we need to go look for internet on the moon?” Dufour said.
Interestingly enough, some residents seem to have a less negative reception to the Starlink site. Anne-Marie Falguieres, who lives just 60 meters away from the proposed Starlink station, noted that the village simply wants to know of any dangers that the site may pose.
“We’re not attacking Elon Musk. We’re not technophobes. I’m a guide on the bay, I have an internet site, my husband works from home. But these antennas are completely new, at least in France, and we want to know if they’re dangerous or not,” she said.
Saint-Senier-de-Beuvron issued a decree in December to block the construction of a Starlink ground site, despite the station already receiving regulatory approval from France’s national radio frequency agency, ANFR. As noted in a report from The Independent, however, the refusal was based on a technicality, which SpaceX’s contractor, Sipartech, could overturn.
The village’s deputy mayor, Noemie Brault, shared some insights about Saint-Senier-de-Beuvron’s opposition to the Starlink ground site. “This project is totally new. We don’t have any idea of the impact of these signals. As a precaution, the municipal council said no. That worries us because we have no data on the effects of the signal on the health of animals and humans in the long run. And when you hear that he wants to implant a chip in people’s brains, it’s frightening,” she said.
SpaceX has launched over 1,000 of its Starlink satellites, though these are only a fraction of the 42,000 that are planned for the constellation. Elon Musk, for his part, has noted that the Starlink beta currently has over 10,000 users, both in the United States and abroad.
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