MP's mobile phone planning overhaul bid

[March 17, 2006]

(Harrogate Advertiser Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge)

NIDDERDALE'S MP David Curry launched an attempt to change the planning laws relating to mobile phone masts in the House of Commons .

Mr Curry, MP for Ripon and Skipton, said there was growing public concern about the siting of mobile phone masts and he believed that there should be a overhaul of their planning application procedure.

"My Bill is an invitation for the industry and Government to engage in discussion to find a better planning framework," he said. "It is an invitation to negotiate." But Mr Curry's Private Member's Bill was effectively killed-off after Jim Fitzpatrick, a Junior Minister in the office of the Deputy Prime Minister, said the Government could not support the measure, and was still speaking when time ran out at the 2.30pm cut-off time.

Mr Curry had said that his involvement in the issue had brought about massive public support, possibly linked to the fears of health risks linked to mobile phones.

"When I said I'd pick up this legislation I really was not expecting such a response from the public. I've had huge support for this bill from across the country," he said.

"It's a huge concern for some of my constituents. I had one man from the Dallamires Lane area in Ripon contact me about a nearby mast which he is terrified of." Mr Curry used his time at the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food during the BSE 'Mad Cow' crisis to sound a note of caution to the Government on playing down the public's fears of mobile phone technology.

"I've been around long enough to know that politicians and scientists can only offer current evidence," he said. "They don't deal in certainties, they don't deal in guarantees, the public increasingly does ask for certainty and guarantees." He says he would like to see a planning system similar to that used in Scotland, which is more stringent.

Mr Fitzpatrick admitted there was considerable disquiet but the Government believed the current planning arrangements "broadly strike the right balance."

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