Council bans phone masts on its land

Bolton Evening News Saturday

18 February 2006

MOBILE-PHONE masts are being banned from land owned by Bolton Council amid fears they pose a health risk. Councillors backed a resolution preventing companies from using council-owned property to erect masts - except in extreme cases where the site is on open land and is the most suitable location available. The move will also see existing masts taken down when their current contracts expire. Cllr Barbara Ronson, the council leader, will personally consider all bids to erect masts on council property on a case-by-case basis. Tory councillor Andy Morgan, who was behind the resolution, said not enough was known about the health risks posed by masts. He told a meeting of the council: "This is a genuine attempt to address the safety fears around phone masts. "We have a chance to say "stop" and to demand more information." But in some cases, where council land was further away from homes and buildings than other available sites, companies could be permitted to erect masts. Under planning law, councillors on the planning committee are unable to refuse applications for mobile phone masts on health and safety grounds on land it does not own. But Cllr Morgan says the councilís new rule will give it more control over the erection of masts. Fears over the safety of mobile phone masts have existed since they were first introduced 15 years ago. The microwaves they generate have been linked to a number of health problems, from headaches to nosebleeds. Five of the current 129 phone masts in the borough are on council-owned land, earning the local authority around £30,000 per year. They are at Stapleton Avenue, Heaton; Duddon Avenue, Breightmet; Rainford House, Haydock Street on the School Estate; Brandwood Street School, Daubhill; and Horwich Leisure Centre. Cllr David Wilkinson, the Liberal Democrat executive member for regeneration and development at Bolton Council, supported the resolution. But he said: "You can’t just say mobile phones are terrible, because the public are voting with their feet and buying these things from shops. "Unfortunately, no government will ever allow a report that says mobile phones are harmful." Labour councillor Laurie Williamson said: "There are some good examples of council land that is ideal for phone masts, such as the golf course in Regent Road. "Masts could be moved on to council land to get them off the public highway."

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