Council earns a fortune from phone masts

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Eileen O'Connor


Council earns a fortune from phone masts
Dec 7 2006

By Adrian Goldberg And Neil Elkes, Birmingham Mail

BIRMINGHAM City Council is raking in more than half a million pounds a year in rent from controversial mobile phone masts.

The figure, the largest declared by any local authority in the country, is generated by 101 masts on council-owned buildings and land.

The city's total of £590,000 dwarfs its nearest rival Leeds, which receives £410,000.

The news will incense campaigners who believe that radiation from the masts causes cancer.

Birmingham had a year-long moratorium on new masts which was lifted in 2005.

But Birmingham still picks up more than Sandwell (£119,750), Wolverhampton (£112,425), Coventry (£44,429) and Dudley (£98,300) put together. Deputy Leader Coun Paul Tilsley said: "A figure like £590,000 for telephone masts might seem large, but many of those will be on schools who make their own management decisions and keep the income.

"Birmingham is also the largest authority in the UK by far and owns more property, so you would expect the figure to be proportionately higher."

In the past 12 months the total for Birmingham has fallen from 134 in 2004 following the moratorium, widespread health fears and a council inquiry into the issue.

Not every council is willing to state its income.

Manchester, for example, won't say how much it gets from the mobile phone companies, and neither will Solihull or Walsall.

Some major local authorities take much less in mast rental than Birmingham - Liverpool gets just £27,000.

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