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18/10/2006 - Welsh mobile phone Masts now require full planning permission

The Environment, Planning and Countryside Committee of the National Assembly for Wales has accepted by a unanimous vote (41 to 0) the principle of full planning for all telecommunication base stations, leaving England isolated as the only part of the UK where full planning for phone masts will not be required. The report, which was the subject of the vote, included 7 recommendations (see below) which if fully implemented by the Welsh Assembly would give the people of Wales the greatest say on phone masts' siting than any other region in the UK.

Planning Sanity congratulated all parties in Wales for taking this bold step forward, particularly Janet Davis AM (Plaid Cymru) for her tenacity in ensuring this issue has stayed firmly on the Welsh Assembly agenda, and her willingness to work with all sides in the debate including organisations such as Planning Sanity to ensure the fullest debate possible of all the real concerns that the Welsh people have over the inappropriate siting of telecommunication installations.

Janet Davis AM (Plaid Cymru) said "I am very pleased that two of the committee recommendations have addressed the main objectives of my subordinate legislation proposal. This is urgently needed to help to increase democracy in the decision-making process for masts and ensure that health concerns are taken into account in a meaningful way.

"At the moment, developers are given almost a free rein to bypass the full planning system and we are, therefore, seeing an explosion of masts in our communities. The public is losing confidence in decisions made in relation to these types of developments, and, unable to see means of influencing decisions. This cannot go on and hopefully will not if the Welsh Assembly Government accepts these recommendations and implement them as soon as practically possible."

Recommendations

  1. We recommend that the Welsh Assembly Government revises its Code of Best Practice on Mobile Phone Network Development in line with the findings of the Arup/University of Reading review and in conjunction with subsequent revisions to the UK Government's Code of Best Practice and further that it considers making the code a statutory document or incorporating relevant parts into TAN 19.
  2. We therefore recommend that the Welsh Assembly Government develops a communication strategy to raise awareness of its Code of Best Practice on Mobile Phone Network Development.
  3. We therefore recommend that permitted development rights are removed and that mobile telecommunications apparatus up to 15 metres be subject to the full planning process.
  4. Since there is clearly a conflict between planning policy and guidance, we recommend that the Minister clarifies guidance in line with Planning Policy Wales to ensure that local planning authorities take health impact assessments into account when deliberating on applications for planning permission or prior approval.
  5. We therefore recommend that the Welsh Assembly Government, using the auspices of the Welsh Local Government Association, encourages local planning authorities to take up the offer of meetings with the MOA's members following distribution of their annual network development plans each autumn.
  6. We therefore recommend to local authorities that they publish the MOA members' annual network development plans and arrange for them to be sent to key stakeholders as early as possible and that the Welsh Assembly Government revises its Code of Best Practice to reflect this.
  7. We recommend that guidance be revised to make a commitment to the feasibility of site sharing obligatory in all applications.

Links:

[View report in full] (135 KB .pdf)

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