New call on phone masts

SARAH HALL

22 July 2006 09:58

The new leader of Norwich City Council has called for a change in the planning laws to allow communities to have a bigger say over where mobile phone masts are put up.

Families across Norwich and beyond have launched many high-profile campaigns against plans for phone masts outside their schools and homes because of fears that emissions will be harmful to health.

Currently local authorities can only turn down applications if it is believed the mast will be an eyesore, not because of health fears.

Planning committees also have no power to stop masts lower than 11 metres being put up by phone companies, which only have to inform councils of their intention.

But Labour leader Steve Morphew, who took over the helm at City Hall in May, said he wanted to see a change in the planning system that would give local authorities, and the people they serve, more of a say in the process.

“I think it would be helpful if the rules were changed and gave planning authorities more control over it,” said Mr Morphew, who spoke of the need for more sensible arrangement whereby people could have more of a say in the siting of masts, which could be put up in areas away from where people are living.

“We do live in this dichotomy that people don't want the phone masts but people use mobile phones,” he said.

“It needs clarification of the rules and applied common sense between the planning authorities and mobile phone operators. I can't help but think if we pull all of this together there could be an agreed way forward.”

In the meantime Mr Morphew said the council would continue its policy of trying to work with communities to try to ensure masts are not located in areas where they cause people concern.

Last January a report published by world mast expert Sir William Stewart said an independent review of the planning process around all base stations was needed.

Sir William's report, which followed his 2000 Government-sponsored study, also called for improvements in ensuring relevant information concerning mobile phone masts and phones was transparent.

The Evening News's Put Masts on Hold Campaign has called for no more masts to be sited near homes or schools until there is conclusive evidence they are not a danger to health.

Dr Ian Gibson, Norwich North MP, has been a long-time supporter of our campaign against the installation of mobile phone masts near homes and schools until it is proved they are safe.

Are you battling a mobile phone mast plan where you live? Telephone Evening News reporter Peter Walsh on (01603) 772439 or e-mail peter.walsh@archant.co.uk .

Copyright © 2006 Archant Regional. All rights reserved.

//tinyurl.com/ne8cs

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