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Simon Preedy
Posted on 11 Sep 2005 10:23 am

Ref: the press article below: "Mast Row" - Pontefract & Castleford Express (1/9/05). I find it interesting that the UK's Planning Minister, Yvette Cooper MP, is backing her constituents in this case... yet seems reluctant to overhaul the planning procedures for Masts for this country at a Central Government level - and implement any of the 19 recommendations given to Government in a Report last year by the All Party Parliamentary Mobile Group, following their Public Inquiry into the Planning and Siting of Masts, that would ensure such instances as detailed in the article from occurring in the country again.

Ms Cooper must surely recognise the example detailed below is commonplace throughout the country and not just a "one off" in her constituency.

The example below - and one of many - gives weight to the argument that the Traffic Light Ratings Model for Public (?!) Consultation does not work effectively for residents and their communities, and the Operator's voluntary Code of Practice should be made statutory / mandatory?

The optional forms of Pre-Application Consultation under the TLR Model (within the Code) also need to be statutory in order to 'fall in line' with the Statement Keith Hill MP (the then Planning Minister) made in the House last December? People may recall that Mr Hill asserted the need for Operators AND LPAs to consult with local people WHEN MAKING DECISIONS ABOUT WHERE MASTS SHOULD GO. He said: "When I've talked to people about this they tell me they're not against Masts in principle, but rather Masts going up without any sense of PUBLIC consultation...Operators, local councils and the LOCAL COMMUNITY should be discussing telecommunications developments at the earliest stage possible in the planning process." As the Code is voluntary (and Pre-App consultation DIRECTLY with residents is optional within the voluntary Code), it appears this rarely happens though... and only if Operators are forced into it by proactive communities!

"Mast Row" - Pontefract & Castleford Express (1 September 2005):

Angry Airedale residents will be meeting mobile phone bosses later this month in a bid to stop plans for a 28ft mast in the middle of their estate.

More than 500 objectors backed by MP Yvette Cooper signed a petition against the mast to be built on a patch of grassland in Elizabeth Drive.

Bosses from Vodafone have now agreed to meet residents at a special drop-in session at Castleford Civic Centre on Wednesday September 21 from 4-7pm.

Petition organiser James Dakin, who lives on Elizabeth Drive, said: "A drop-in session suggests Vodafone wants to deal with residents individually instead of as a whole group. It could split people's opinions and we want to tackle the company together.
"This is typical of what's happening across the country with these masts. Mobile phone companies and councils just railroad them through despite the potential health risks. I would have expected the council to at least allow us to put in our objections first."

Ms Cooper said she had written to Vodafone three times to ask them to consult residents. She added: "I am appalled that Vodafone didn't meet residents before putting their planning application forward, despite having assured me three times that they would. "I am now urging them to conduct a proper consultation before anything goes ahead and that means listening to what residents have to say and not simply coming to talk to them."

A Wakefield Council spokesman said: "Planning permission for the mast was given to Vodafone on August 10. It was a delegated decision so it didn't need to go to full committee." END


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