Select Committee on Trade and Industry Minutes of Evidence

Supplementary memorandum submitted by Mast Action UK

  These cases are representative of the type of problems that Mast Action UK members and other groups have experienced.
Case studyLocation Mobile Operator
Ref 1FoweyOrange
Arrogation of local democracy.

  Local council with full support of the entire community refused mast next to Primary School. Orange took this to Appeal where the Planning Inspector placed no weight on the concerns of those the mast would directly affect and overruled the local democracy. The people of Fowey mounted a legal challenge to Orange who then withdrew their application.
Ref 2
Inconsistency within DETRIpswich Orange

  2a Richard Ogier DETR Inspector dismisses health concerns 5.12.2000 (see para 12) [1],

  2b Richard Ogier DETR Inspector upholds health concerns 2.12.2001 (see para 12-14) 1

  2c Evidence of property devaluation.
Ref 3SedgefieldOne2One
Disparity in local government planning policy.

  If the MP for Sedgefield can influence local planning decisions, should this not be possible in all constituencies?
Ref 4Bishops Srortford, Hertfordshire Orange
Irregularities in planning procedures.

Ref 5Countesthorpe, Leicester One2One
Abuse of planning law 22 metre monople

  Forty-nine metres from nearest home. Four metres from Parish Council playing field leased to childrens football club. Blaby District Council granted planning permission for mast December 1999. Since discovered that mast is situated three metres to the South, eleven metres to the West of the position agreed, and is two metres higher than planning permitted. Blaby Council have failed to take enforcement action against One2One. There was due to be a Council Enquiry on 28 March 2000. One2One installed the mast one week before the Enquiry, it has yet to be commissioned. A complaint has been submitted to the Local Government Ombudsman sitting grounds of maladministration.
Ref 6Gainsborough, Lincolnshire Orange
Centre of housing estate Water Tower
Serious loss of amenity eight metres from nearest home.

  Exploitation by the operator of the planning system has meant that after the initial application there has been no control over the number of additions. Plans are in hand for six new ariels plus booster station on existing site.
Ref 6a Illustration of lack of specific guidance from DETR
Ref 7Isle of WightOne2One
Abust of local democracy.

  Despite overwhelming objections from local school and residents the planning committee not only recommended approval but also "stressed that application of this nature seek approval of siting and appearance only", which contravenes Article 6 of Human Rights Act.
Ref 8Hertfordshire County Council vs Local Authority Planning
Discontinuity and conflict in Local Government planning policy.

  East Hertfordshire District Council have refused permission for Lampost mast due to concern from local residents. This is in direct conflict with Hertfordshire County Council agreement with Orange to replace lamposts with masts.
Ref 9Mickleover, Derby Vodafone
Breach of planning control.
Serious loss of amenity.
Ref 10Norwich, Norfolk. BT Cellnet
Peter Colby Commercials
School Lane, Sprowston.
Failure of Local Government Planning System.

  Sprowston Parish Council confirmed commencement of work on installation, which is not completed. Council Chairman quoted as saying "the Parish Council was against it because of possible future development of the area for residential use, it is just unfortunate Broadland failed to get any papers in before the due date". NB: Broadland District Council failed to notify BT Cellnet of its objections to the pole within the required 42-day time limit. Regardless of resident's views, because of the "oversight" the company was legally allowed to go ahead with its plans. The landowner has since requested to withdraw from the contract. This case is ongoing.
Ref 11Geoffs Oak JMI
Infant and Nursery School

  Aggressive business practices. Apparent collusion with Hertfordshire County Council see enclosed letters. Despite more than five years of campaigning at local and national level, this mast is still on the school premises in close proximity to local residents. The school children's parents and local community were totally disenfranchised from the consultation process and denied the right to a voice in the decisions that affect quality of life and their families future. Five years on as many of our members will testify, this arrogation of rights is still prevalent.
Ref 12Bells Hill
BT Cellnet
Wealth before Health.

  Strathclyde Regional Council identified a cancer cluster in this area close to a Scottish Power Sub-Station. Despite grave concerns for health in this particularly sensitive area, BT Cellnet are persisting with plans to install a mast. The fact of local residents legitimate concerns for health, has been blatantly disregarded by BT who state "At the moment the use of mobile phones is growing so fast that we have to match that growth with the coverage we offer".
Ref 13
Impact of non-rational mast siting on individuals and the community at large.   Mast Action UK


  The fact that MAUK, a rapidly expanding organisation with currently over 100 groups across the UK exists is proof that insensitive siting of masts does adversely affect the daily lives, peace of mind and sense of wellbeing of a growing number of people in this country.

  In May 2000, the Government commissioned the Stewart Report on Mobile Phones and Health which gave as its overriding recommendation the use of caution when siting masts—this has been blatantly ignored and abused by the mobile phone industry.

  MAUK receives many inquiries every day from people who feel angry and outraged by current mobile phone mast siting policy in the UK which provides valuable data about the impact this has on families and communities across the country. The most commonly expressed dissatisfaction with the present system, which is routinely ignored by the operators, local and central Government is:

    —  being denied a fair and impartial hearing (see Article 6 Human Rights Act 1998); and

    —  being disenfranchised from the planning and decision making processes which impact heavily on the quality of life for individuals, families and community.

  Increasingly, people feel that the really important decisions which most affect their homes, daily lives, financial security and happiness, are being taken by "others" with little or sense of social responsibility for those who live in close proximity to masts 24 hours of the day not to mention concern for future outcomes to society from the widespread proliferation of masts across the UK.

  The historical and traditional role of local government is responsibility for the safety and protection of the community and the environment. Increasingly, the evidence suggests an insidious drift away from this legal duty of care, by schools and local government, in favour of commercial interests and financial considerations.

  These institutions have been sanctioned in this policy by the recent directive issued 29 June 2000 by Planning Minister Nick Raynesford addressed to "all Council Leaders" which stated "it should not be necessary for a Local Planning Authority, in processing an Application, to consider health effects further".

  The public report to MAUK that their reactions to this situation include feelings of:

    —  anger, outrage, desperation, frustration, worry, uncertainty, fear, animosity, distress and powerlessness;

    —  disaffection with local and, in particular, central government;

    —  mistrust in the processes and values of democracy on which our system of government is founded.

  These key factors are well known causes of stress and long exposure can trigger:

    —  destabillisation of the family;

    —  social unrest, disharmony and fragmentation;

    —  civil disobedience in normally law abiding citizens;

    —  breakdown in the social fabric of the community.

  MAUK can report that the current siting policy of mobile masts adversely affects and disrupts the daily routines and lives of many families across the country. Many people already live close to masts 24 hours a day and are campaigning to get them removed. Many others are involved in campaign activities to stop masts being erected near them. This takes up their time, saps their mental and physical energy and their financial resources. Some people have actually given up their usual employment or study courses to fight campaigns in their communities.

  It is recognised by health professionals that long term stress is a known precondition for the onset of serious and life threatening illness. It also severely depresses the immune system affecting the normal functioning of the body's systems.

  Stewart, section 1.31 made reference to this as "the well being of people being indirectly adversely affected which could in some people have adverse health effects".

  Newport and Tandridge Court of Appeal (1998) cited "genuine public fear and concern, even if the fear is irrational and not based upon evidence" as a material planning consideration.

  The siting of mobile phone base stations close to populations presents an unquantifiable risk, which is the common sense rationale behind the Stewart recommendation for the "precautionary principle" to be used when siting base stations.

  At present there may be no proof of harm, but neither is there proof of no harm. There is however, acknowledged risk and serious concern for vulnerable groups exposed to radiation from masts: babies and children whose cells are still dividing, the sick and elderly whose immune systems are depressed, those suffering from epilepsy and other neurological conditions. There are also reported cases of adverse effects on hearing and from the users of hearing aids and pace makers.

  The health effects of this new technology on people; using microwave low frequency pulsating radiation, is not yet fully understood and may take another 15 to 20 years to emerge. By which time it would be too late to prevent another public health disaster.

  In the light of the many recent health scares, and public mistrust of government assurances regarding health and safety, MAUK believes the citizens of the UK have the right to enjoy their homes and live without the fear of radiation. We are campaigning for the sensible siting of masts.

  Societies are judged by their values, by the way in which people behave towards one another, by our sense of social responsibility. In view of the compelling evidence against siting masts in the midst of populations, with all the attendant acknowledged risks to those people the question now is: do we care enough about the welfare of our fellow human beings to put their interests before financial gain?

12 March 2001

1   Not printed. Back

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