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Simon Preedy
Posted on 28 Oct 2005 2:17 pm

Hi Marre,

Your comments are very validate and should be noted.

Councils generally follow Planning Policy Guidance from Central Government (Office of the Deputy Prime Minister) - PPG8 (Planning Policy Guidance Note 8). However, those that do not follow this generally find their decisions being overturned, either by the Planning Inspectorate or the Courts, leaving them (& their taxpayers!) with costs.

PPG8 states: "In the Government's view, local planning authorities should not implement their own precautionary policies e.g. by way of imposing a ban or moratorium on new telecommunications development or insisting on minimum distances between new telecommunications development and existing development."

My local MP (Maria Miller, Conservative - Basingstoke) is working hard at a Central Government level, pressing them to overhaul the Planning System for Masts, which has wide cross-party support; being one of 19 recommendations that were presented to Government in a Report by the All Party Parliamentary Mobile Group, following their Public Inquiry on the Planning & Siting of Masts in May 2004, which both myself (as a resident) and B&DBC gave written and oral evidence at in Westminster - see: www.apmobile.org.uk

Maria contributed to a debate in the House on Telecoms in June 2005 - see weblink: http://www.theyworkforyou.com/whall/?id=2005-06-28.345.1&... & is now considering asking the Government for a major debate on the Planning of Masts on the floor of the House, which I believe also has wide cross-party support.

Operators work to a Code of Practice that is a voluntary undertaking. Pre-Application Consultation directly with residents is an optional undertaking under this voluntary Code. I have always mantained that both should become statutory (and perhaps even regulated?!), to "fall in line" with the Statement made by the (then) Planning Minister, Keith Hill MP, in the House of Commons in December 2004. Mr Hill asserted the need for Operators and Local Planning Authorities to consult with local people WHEN MAKING DECISIONS ABOUT WHERE MASTS SHOULD GO. He said (quote): "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." (unquote). This rarely happens, and only if Operators are forced into it by proactive communities... or individuals such as myself!

However, with the current Planning system in place, it appears compromises will need to be struck! With £22bn in Govt coffers coming from the Operator's 3G licenses, these Mast will eventually be placed somewhere!

As B&DBC's Leader, Councillor Paul Harvey, recently stated, changes that I had suggested B&DBC make to their Pre-Application processes may help us in placing pressure on Central Government to overhaul the planning process that is so desperately needed. We shall see!

As a Senior B&DBC Official recently stated: residents can call on ALL Councillors to actively engage in Pre-Application Consultations - that silence is the worst possible action, because what was the point of being elected if not to articulate a view, and where local democracy is undermined by conscious inaction it is a worrying thing.

Simon Preedy
Basingstoke Mast Campaigner


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