12
Jan
2006

Phone mast Bill heads for Commons

10/1/2006

Fleet News and Mail

CAMPAIGNERS are hoping a vital mobile phone mast bill will finally get to be debated in parliament.

They are welcoming the proposed new Telecommunications Bill 2006 as it will put greater emphasis on health concerns when mobile mast applications are discussed.

Supporters are now hoping it will be third time lucky when the Bill is due to be debated in the House of Commons next month.

They include residents of Trefoil Close in Hartley Wintney, who for years have been fighting a series of plans to put masts on the redundant water tower overlooking their homes.

Trefoil Close campaigner Marre Dafforn said if the Bill became law it would mean a fundamental shift in the way telecom developments are looked at in the planning system, putting greater emphasis on health concerns.

She added: “This Bill first and foremost removes permitted development rights from telecom developments, meaning that all such installations will require full planning permission, to bring it into line with Scotland.

“Next it requires greater consideration of the health issue, requiring a statement setting out the precautionary measures to be undertaken to protect the public and wildlife.

“It then strengthens the public’s rights under the Electronic Communication Code, making it easier to get compensation for loss in property value. It also allows easier challenges to both existing and proposed installations that are close to schools and hospitals and other sensitive locations.”

Mrs Dafforn said Hartley Wintney ward councillor Sara Kinnell had organised a meeting with local MP James Arbuthnot on January 27, when residents can ask him to support the Telecommunications Bill on their behalf and be present to vote.

Meanwhile councillors are preparing a motion of support for the Bill to be lodged at this month’s full meeting of Hart District Council.

Chris Maile of pressure group Planning Sanity said: “We need pressure on MPs to be in the Commons on February 24 as well as pressure on local authorities to pass motions/resolutions of support.

“This is intended as a make or break approach — it is the third attempt at the same Bill so let’s see that it is third time lucky.

“Irrespective of the local campaign it is in everyone’s interests to change the law.”

Planning Sanity was first approached by Conservative MP Richard Spring to help with the drafting of a proposed Telecommunications Bill in 2003.

The Bill received some debate in its second reading and resulted in a technical win of ten votes in support and two votes against, one of which was the relevant government Minister.

However the Bill was lost due to the fact that for a quorum there has to be a minimum of 40 MPs in the House.

A revised Bill was then reintroduced by Liberal Democrat MP Andrew Stunnell, but was not put to a vote due to the calling of the general election.

A new version of the Bill is now being taken forward by David Curry, Conservative MP for Skipton and Ripon, and is due for a second reading in the Commons on February 24.

Mr Maile said: “This is important because we now know with certainty that the Bill does have a place in the parliamentary agenda.

“However, because of the system what is unsure is whether the Bill will get any debating time, or indeed be put to a vote.”
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