We can't say no to the masts

..in yesterdays Sussex Argus by of all people a Brighton Tory Councillor, Lynda Hyde.

I've emailed most Councillors re phone masts etc for years - this is the first time such a strong letter has been written by a Councillor.

See below

Gary


We can't say no to the masts

Kevin Haestler of Portslade is concerned for the health of his children if a 12.5m mast and base station is erected outside his house (to be precise 0.7 metres away and that is NOT a misprint) and asks why the planning system cannot refuse such applications on health grounds.

The reason is the Government has taken away the rights of local authorities to refuse applications on health grounds.

This is despite the Governments own Stewart Report which calls for a precautionary approach to the positioning of masts.

Masts of 15 metres and above are presented to the planning committee for a decision and many times such applications are refused.

However, if a telecommunications company appeals against the decision, it is then nearly always granted by the appeal inspector.

Again this is because councils are not permitted to refuse the application on health grounds.

Moreover, a mast which does not exceed 15 metres needs no planning consent at all.

A telecommunications operator may erect a mast under "permitted development rights".

The Government speaks of giving a "voice to the people" and then deliberately presses the mute button so they do not have a voice.

Perhaps I should also mention the Government sold licences to telecommunications companies for the magnificent sum of £23 billion.

Could this be the reason powers have been removed from local authorities?

Lynda Hyde

If ayone wants to write to Lynda Hyde her email is lynda.hyde@brighton-hove.gov.uk

Or send as reply to The Argus letters@theargus.co.uk

--------

I empathise with the gist of what Cllr Hyde has to say about central government banning the right to turn down such mobile phone installations on health grounds. She is also right in questioning whether this blanket ban has anything to do with the sale of 3G licences for the sum of circa £23 billion. I feel bound to comment on a couple of her other statements, however. This is not to criticise but merely to set the record straight.

It is quite true to say that masts 15 metres or more in height require full planning permission and that applications for such development are often refused. However, it is not correct to say that in the event of appeal, permission is almost always granted. Nor is it true to say that masts not exceeding 15 metres in height require no consent at all.

Ground based installations not exceeding 15 metres in height constitute permitted development through the provisions of Part 24 of the General Permitted Development Order (GPDO) and, other than in exceptional circumstances, applications are subject to the prior approval process which, as successive planning ministers have assured us, is a different procedure from planning permission in name only.

As with applications for planning permission, applications for prior approval are frequently refused but it does not follow that, in the event of appeal, approval is almost always granted by planning inspectors. The figures over the past five years indicate that over 30% of appeals against local planning authorities' decisions to refuse applications for masts are dismissed.

I accede that at present we cannot say no to masts on health grounds alone, albeit in my view it is only a matter of time before a causal link is established between the radiation associated with mobile phone technology and adverse health effects. Moreover, it is true to say that government policy and legislation in respect of mast development is very heavily weighted in favour of the operators and against the tenets of local democracy. That said, and despite the difficulties face by communities, there are several material planning considerations which can, and should, be deployed against applications to site mobile phone installations insensitively.

I will send a response based on the above text to the Argus.

David

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