Derbyshire Evening Telegraph
Law firm Freeth Cartwright believes times are changing for mobile phone operators and contractors in the East Midlands - and getting tougher for them to put up masts, nodes and other equipment.
A draft Bill for proposed legislation has been published by the House of Commons called the Telecommunications Masts (Planning Control) Bill which Freeth Cartwright says is of real importance for those with telecoms apparatus on their land or those who have been approached by an operator who wants to place equipment on their land.
It will also be of interest to parties who wish to object to the siting of apparatus in their vicinity, or to landowners who may be considering ways of trying to remove apparatus.
"The Bill is in its early stages and the second reading in the House of Commons is not expected until the end of February," explained Freeth Cartwright associate, Baxter Horton.
"If the Bill becomes law, telecoms operators who apply for planning permission to install apparatus such as a mast or operational ancillary apparatus must supply the planning authority with a 'statement' which is essentially a health warning if it is applicable.
"They must also include a 'certificate' identifying the beam where the greatest exposure to the radio frequency radiation signal is located, and the distance and range of the beam from the apparatus.
"Local planning authorities must make the health warning available for public inspection and indicate how the public may make representations. The planners must then weigh up the health warning and any public representations before deciding whether to grant or refuse planning permission.
"If the beam of greatest intensity falls on land used as an educational or medical facility or any residential property, then the planners must also take into account the 'certificate' information and any public representations before granting or refusing planning permission."
Baxter says this will have a significant impact on operators. "Clearly if the Bill becomes law, operators will need to be much more open and frank in providing information about their sites, and any potential health implications and technical details about the radio frequency signals.
"They will need to obtain fresh planning permission if they wish to replace unserviceable apparatus with equipment of a different type and capacity on an existing site.
"More radical proposals under the Bill may allow owners of educational, nursery or medical facilities to force telecoms operators to give back land compulsorily purchased for use as a telecoms site, or to remove apparatus without having to pay the operator any compensation.
"The legislation may require such establishments to serve 28 days notice to recover their land or remove equipment, and then apply for a county court order.
"If an order is granted, the operator must stop using the equipment and remove it within three months. No details are available as yet on rights of appeal.
"Whilst there is no specific proof that telecoms masts and apparatus are dangerous to health, the Bill is likely to raise the profile of health issues.
Omega there is specific proof that telecoms masts and apparatus are dangerous to health. See under:
It would also provide that premises used for medical, health-related or educational purposes have a statutory right to seek removal or decommissioning of equipment on their property, even if there is no contractual right in the operator's lease or agreement.
"Potentially this could be an invaluable weapon where bodies such as schools, universities and hospitals are worried about the public perception of radio emissions and radiation and wish to opt out of pre-existing legal agreements."