Health call could lead to mast row

Rochdale Observer

Published: 9th December 2005

TOWN Hall bosses have been urged to review all mobile masts on their property – by the leader of the council’s largest party.

In what could spark a row between council planners and councillors, Liberal Democrat leader, Councillor Alan Taylor, says health fears should always be addressed whenever decisions are made on the siting of masts.

But this is in direct contrast to what the council’s own planning officers tell councillors on the planning committee.

They have pointed out that it is the Goverment’s firm view that the planning system is not the place for determining health safeguards.

The government has also told planning chiefs that if a proposed mobile phone base station met the international guidelines on exposing the public to radiation, it should not be necessary for a local planning authority to consider further the health aspects of any particular application.

Currently, there are 21 council-owned sites with mobile masts.

The lifetime of the masts range from five years to 21 years. The sites include schools, council premises, offices, the flats at College Bank and even the Black Box.

Councillor Taylor says the issue, ‘quite rightly’, has provoked a massive increase in the size of councillors’ postbags whenever an application for a mast is proposed in their ward.

He continued: "I think that Rochdale Council should be harder on applicants.

"When a mobile phone operator applies for permission to erect a mast, especially on council land, we should be rigorous in making sure that local people, or those working day-in, day-out near the site, are borne in mind.

"The council needs to send a clear message to mobile phone operators that it will closely scrutinise their work with a series of checks and balances that should always put public safety at the forefront of the public’s mind.

"I appreciate that mobile phones are a huge part of people’s social and business lives, but we should always have the safety of the public in mind."

Councillor Taylor’s comments come in the wake of the recent approval given to the siting of a mast near a Castleton primary school and another above Syke community base, despite widespread public opposition.

He’s asked Paul Rowen, the Rochdale MP, to query the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister about mobile phone masts.

He said: "Currently, councils are advised that they need to look at issues such as the appearance or siting of a particular mast. They are advised by the government not to take into account any of the health issues associated with such masts. I think this is fundamentally wrong.

"I have been contacted by dozens of residents about mobile phone masts and their concerns simply cannot be addressed the current process."

Planning committee chairman, Zulfiqar Ali, who is also a Liberal Democrat, said Councillor Taylor should know it is not the council that makes planning policy, but central government.

"This makes it very difficult for us. If Councillor Taylor can come up with independent evidence that mobile phone masts pose a health risk then I’ll be happy to go along with him.

"But until then, our hands are tied."

Independent evidence that mobile phone masts pose a health risk see under:


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