20
Okt
2005

Plans to hide mobile masts

by Jolene Hill
This is Local London

PHONE masts could be hidden in more than 100 of the borough's lampposts if mobile phone company plans are approved.

Various firms have approached Bromley Council offering financial deals for the new masts, which could see the borough scooping £50,000.

The proposed 10m-tall lampposts, which have already been installed by 20 other councils including Westminster, will feature tiny phone masts and advertising hoardings.

The tiny masts will only be visible thanks to a small aerial from the outside and under Government rules will not require planning permission, meaning firms can put them up wherever they wish.

Fearful residents fighting the controversial spread of masts throughout the borough have condemned the plans.

Orpington Residents Against Masts (ORAM) member Susan Green said: "This could be right outside your child's bedroom and you wouldn't know.

"We won't discover problems until way down the line when the damage has been done."

The council says it is obliged to consider plans because there is no existing policy to cover the proposals and says nothing has been decided yet.

Portfolio holder Councillor George Taylor will make a decision on the plans tomorrow.

The environment policy development and scrutiny committee has recommended he reject the mast proposals.

Cllr Taylor would not be drawn on what his decision will be but said: "This is the first opportunity for the council to decide on this matter.

"But my personal views are clear given my history of opposing every mast in my ward."

He added: "I also supported the council's motion calling on the Government to allow us to take health risks into account when granting planning permission for masts."

ORAM member James Malone says the council has already let residents down by granting planning permission for many masts already in the borough.

He said: "We have tried to go through the democratic process and we would have reached the same point if we had done nothing at all."

A Bromley Council spokesman says the portfolio holder, rather than a committee, is responsible for taking decisions affecting the street scene because of Government changes.

The spokesman said applications are considered in line with local and national policies and the portfolio holder's decision can be challenged by other councillors.

9:53am Wednesday 19th October 2005
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