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Telecommunications Masts

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 10:46 am on 28th June 2005.

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Photo of Jim Fitzpatrick Jim Fitzpatrick Minister (Office of the Deputy Prime Minister) (London) 10:46 am, 28th June 2005

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his comments. As I shall explain later, we are still considering a variety of issues, and I am sure that that is one such issue.

Let me tell the hon. Member for Sutton and Cheam that although Scotland demands full planning permission for ground-based masts, there are permitted development rights for smaller installations. That change was made in response to the Stewart report in 2000, which was concerned that the prior approval period for smaller masts—46 days—did not allow for full consultation. In England, we strengthened the consultative requirements for ground-based masts up to 15 m high, so they are the same as those for full planning permission.

On the technological research, I briefly remind colleagues that on 4 April my hon. Friend Yvette Cooper, who is now the Minister for Housing and Planning, announced that the Government would be commissioning research to identify the future direction of mobile phone technology, the future need for mast developments and the potential for the increased sharing of masts. The Government are committed to evidence-based policy making, and that research will enable us to ensure that any changes to the planning regulations for telecommunications masts are fit for the future. The research will help inform the Government's ongoing review of planning arrangements for mobile phone masts. I can assure Mr. Pickles that the research will also consider the issue of roaming.