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A survey of local planning authorities in the south west of England has highlighted widespread concern with existin...
A survey of local planning authorities in the south west of England has highlighted widespread concern with existing government policy, legislation and advice on dealing with applications for mobile phone masts.

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.

One of the most significant findings was around the issue of deemed consent, where under certain conditions, mobile phone masts can be erected when a mobile phone company claims non-receipt of planning refusal letters within a 56 day time limit. Out of the 13 Local Planning Authorities surveyed, 4 had sent letters of refusal within 56 days, which the phone company claimed not to receive, with masts being erected as a result. This is in contrast to the rest of the planning system, where applicants have to receive written proof that development has been approved.

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

It is hoped that SWLGA's letter forms an important contribution to this process.

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