OPPOSITION to the installation of smart meter devices by utility companies to monitor household energy consumption is gathering pace across Enfield.
Hundreds have joined a Facebook page in a David and Goliath-style fight, pitting the consumer against the Government, which has given the go-ahead to install them in every home by 2020.
A smart meter is a wireless device that records consumption of electricity, gas and water in 30-minute intervals and beams that information back to a central database held by each utility firm.
Ministers set out plans nearly a decade ago, claiming the meters will help customers cut their bills and governments meet environmental targets.
Charlotte Palmer, of Ordnance Road, Enfield Lock, set up the Stop Smart Meters in Enfield Facebook page and is knocking on doors every evening to make residents aware of the “dangers of the devices”.
She believes the central database of utility information would be a tempting target for hackers and identity thieves. Campaigners also claim that the electromagnetic radiation pulses the devices emit pose a health hazard.
Miss Palmer, 45, said:
“The meters have been installed in the road and once they are turned on, will collect details about how people use electricity and gas, allowing snoopers to scrutinise what time someone goes to bed, washes or uses their computer.
“They can tell hackers, when we’re in or out, on holiday, in bed. It’s a massive invasion of privacy and potentially very dangerous if it gets into the wrong hands.”
Global giants which supply gas, water and electricity have until 2020 to install them or face hefty fines.
Enfield Council has given Thames Water permission to dig up the pathways in Ordnance Road and install the devices.
Thames Water does not need permission from households to install them in Enfield, because London is a high “water consumption” area.
Danny Leamon, Thames Water’s head of metering, said:
“Installing water meters is important, not just because they give our customers greater control over their water use, but also for the environment, as climate change and population growth put ever increasing pressure on our water resources. We also believe meters are the fairest way to pay because you pay for what you use, value what you pay for, and so tend to use water more efficiently.
“Water companies can meter domestic premises on a compulsory basis in areas which have been determined by the Secretary of State to be of serious water stress, which London is.
“The meters are activated shortly after being installed so the radio signals can be checked. We write to customers to let them know and from then on they will have two years before they are switched to a metered bill, or sooner if they want.”
Mr Leamon added that the devices posed no health risk and that data would be transferred using “robust encryption.”
Miss Palmer has been inspired by friends in Haringey who set up a successful Smart Meter resistance group.
She is also urging as many residents as possible to attend the council’s ward meeting at Ordnance Road Library, Hertford Road on December 6 at 7:30pm when the item is on the agenda.