Local councils can say no to unwanted phone masts

Hi David

Your letter was published in todays Argus as below under the large heading Local councils can say no to unwanted phone masts.

The letter was so different to the one you posted to MS I'm wondering did you send a different version or was it heavily edited?



I note Councillor Lynda Hydes observations about mobile phone base stations (Letters June 2) and empathise with what she says about central Government banning the right to turn down such installations on health grounds.

She is also right to ask whether this blanket ban has anything to do with the sale of 3G licences for in the region of £23 billion.

However, I feel bound to comment on a couple of her other statements. This is not to criticise but merely to set the record straight.

It is 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 that masts which do not exceed 15 metres in height require no consent at all.

Ground based installations not exceeding 15 metres in height do, indeed, constitute permitted development but applications are subject to the prior approval process which, as successive planning ministers have assured us, differs from planning permission in name only.

As with applications for planning permission, applications for prior approval are frequently refused but, in the event of appeal, it does not follow that approval is almost always granted by planning inspectors.

Figures for the past five years show that more than 30% of appeals against local planning authorities' decisions to refuse applications for masts are dismissed.

I concede we cannot say no to masts at present 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, Government policy and legislation in respect of mast development is heavily weighted in favour of the operators and against the tenets of local democracy.

Nevertheless, 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.



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