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Telecommunications Masts

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 10:06 am on 28th June 2005.

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Photo of John Horam John Horam Conservative, Orpington 10:06 am, 28th June 2005

We are all grateful to my hon. Friend Mr. Clifton-Brown for raising this subject today. I think that the electors of Cheadle, too, will be interested in the extent to which Conservatives have shown concern for their interests. I am grateful to be called to speak, Mr. Olner, because we have a splendid array of Conservatives on these Benches, which shows our interest in this subject, and our concern about it.

In my constituency there is a very good organisation called ORAM. [Hon. Members: "Hear, hear."] It does have a pleasing similarity to my own name, and I do recommend it, because it stands for Orpington Residents Against Masts. Its purpose is perfectly clear. It has done a considerable public service in my constituency by raising the issue through public meetings, drawing up petitions about masts, investigating the facts and calling on experts. In one case—this shows a non-party approach—a Liberal Democrat spokesman was invited. It has shown considerable concern—the concern of ordinary people—about the subject. This is not just a matter for Members of Parliament or councillors, but one about which ordinary people are very concerned.

In my constituency nine applications for mobile phone masts are now going through the system; that is a large number. From time to time, residents get concerned about the reasons given by the mobile phone mast operators for those new constructions. For example, one mobile phone mast has just been allowed on appeal after being refused by the local authority, Bromley council. The reasons given in a letter to one of my constituents who was concerned about that were as follows:

"Synergy, Planning and Property Consultants have informed us that the masts are needed for drivers on the A21 wishing to access their home computers."

It is illegal now to have hand-held phones in cars, and very few people have hands-free phones in their cars. Moreover, the A21 is on a red route, where people cannot stop. The reason cited seems rather curious to me, and it seems rather trivial to my constituents.