The South West Local Government Association survey revealed that many local authority planning officers felt the current framework for decision making did not meet the public's expectations for consultation, and that the system was unfairly balanced in favour of mobile phone companies wishing to put up masts.
The survey also highlighted several other areas of concern, including the need for:
the cumulative effect of installations to be considered more (both in terms of visual impact and emissions); more resources for keeping telecom registers up-to-date, which can aid LPAs in requesting mast shares; more stringent tests for phone companies to demonstrate proposals are the only appropriate technical solution; full planning permission to simplify the process for officers and the public; an update to Planning Policy Guidance 8 and a rewrite of Part 24 of the General Permitted Development Orders; an update and strengthening of the Code of Best Practice on Mobile Phone Network Development; and an independent regulator and adjudication body with information and research for the public to use.
SWLGA sent a letter to planning minister Yvette Cooper highlighting the widespread concern and setting out the survey findings in full.
A copy of the letter sent to DCLG and a summary of the survey findings are available from:
DCLG is currently considering:
'what improvements will help create a system that better meets the public's expectations for consultation'.
DCLG is also currently undertaking research on the future development of the mobile phone network and a review of the planning arrangements for mobile phone masts http:www.communities.gov.uk/index.asp?id=1002882&PressNoticeID=1857
It is hoped that SWLGA's letter forms an important contribution to this process.