Examination of Witness (Questions 100
TUESDAY 13 MARCH 2001
100. Do you think that at the moment operators
really phone up their competitors and say "we are going to
have another set of masts in Guildford, do you want to join us?"
(Mr Birch) I do not think the operators talk to themselves.
We have been in the daft position where two regional offices of
the same operator have been putting in masts quite close to each
other in our district and we have said "why do you not talk
to the other bit of your own firm?" I am pretty sure they
do not talk to each other.
101. Do your councils maintain registers of
(Mr Birch) Yes. In fact, I have brought one to show
you. I thought you might ask that question. This is the Guildford
Telecommunications Register which shows where all the masts are,
when they were permitted, what happened and so on.
102. When was that drawn up?
(Mr Birch) This was actually March last year but we
have updated it although we have not published it. We can send
you an up-to-date one if you want one.
103. Within your local government sector is
this commonplace or would you regard yourselves as the exception?
(Mr Birch) I think we are probably the leading edge.
104. You would say that, would you not?
(Mr Birch) I think a lot of authorities do have them
now, I do not know how many.
(Mr Haslam) We certainly keep a register.
(Mr Wilbraham) When we phoned around yesterday to
a number of councils just to find the figures on prior notification,
there were quite a number of authorities who could not tell us
because they do not keep records in that way. It is not mandatory.
105. It does create a problem, surely, where
a small mast was there originally and it is assumed that it is
okay and overnight another one comes in, it is twice as high and
it has got a generating station and what have you beside it. That
really is the difficulty. Have you got this? What do you do with
it? Do you have someone wandering around Guildford checking that
the masts are okay?
(Mr Birch) No, we do not. What we use it for is when
a new application comes in and we will check to see what is in
that vicinity. We use a telecoms consultant because we do not
have the expertise in terms of cell size and so on. He uses that
a lot to identify what is within there, whether there are prospects
for mast sharing or whatever.
106. One last point. You referred a couple of
times to work which is being done by the RCA?
(Mr Haslam) The Radiocommunications Agency.
(Mr Wilbraham) I believe that they currently do go
around and monitor particularly sensitive sites. Our point is,
without trivialising it, if there were a lot more little red vans
being seen with Radiocommunications Agency people with overalls
(Mr Haslam) Stethoscopes.
(Mr Wilbraham)equipment, so the public could
see that it is actually happening then I think that would begin
to instil in the public confidence that there is an agency just
checking that everything is all right.
107. Mind you, there is the other view, that
it would merely serve to raise anxiety, "there must be something
wrong or they would not be going around".
(Mr Wilbraham) It comes down to education to make
it clear why it is being done.
Chairman: It is just one of the problems that
we as constituency Members have. The precautionary principle goes
a bit further sometimes in people's minds. I do not think we have
any further questions, so thank you very much.