AP Mobile Group: over the years the industry have used the group as another means to lobby

From Karen Barratt

It is worth mentioning that AP Mobile produced a report on telecoms planning in July 2004 (press conf etc). The Report took evidence from a number of campaign groups eg Winchester, Wishaw etc, local govt and the industry and made recommendations similar to some of those contained in the PMB including scrapping prior approval for masts under 15 metres. I spoke to Mike Dolan (MOA) at the press launch of the Report and he was clearly worried. He needn't have been - the Govt did nothing. I've refered to this many times in interviews and press releases as an example of how the Govt has ignored advice from various bodies. The AP Mobile Group was set up in response to the Winchester campaign's lobby of parliament in July 2001 (I was at the meeting when Mark Oaten and Phil Willis agreed to do it). It was intended to give people like us a voice - the then planning minister Lord Falconer had refused to meet us to discuss the proposed revision to PPG8 (We wanted the contentious paragraphs removed).

Over the years the industry have used the group as another means to lobby because they have the time and money to do it - campaigners don't. This is inevitable. They've sponsored the technology meetings (tea and biscuits thanks to Vodafone etc) but judging by recent newspaper reports don't like it when others do the same thing. Mast Sanity had discussed sponsoring an AP Mobile meeting in the past. I'm sure that would have prompted a simiilar outraged response from the telecom industry. Sometimes you can't win and that's the position AP Mobile finds itself in. It's worth looking at their website www.apmobile.org.uk . to see the way they accept mobile phone technology ie looking for ways to protect against adverse effects rather than damning the whole technology. Meetings about the phones themselves also shifts the focus away from planning and mast-siting (the reason the group was set up in the first place) We can attribute this to effective lobbying by the telecoms but being realistic it is in line with public opinion too. Pepole don't want masts but a majority do want phones as long as the negative 'social' aspects can be sorted out.

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