Greens see red over mast colour

Norwich Evening News

26 July 2005 12:11

A Green Party councillor has expressed his anger over a decision to allow the city council to choose the colour of a mobile phone mast it did not want in the first place.

Last month the Evening News reported how phone mast campaigners were dealt a blow after a planning inspector agreed to allow a mobile phone mast to be installed at the junction of Gipsy Lane and Farrow Road.

Planners at Norwich City Council initially threw out proposals from 3, formerly Hutchinson 3G, to build the 12.5 metre slimline mast because they deemed it an eyesore.

But the communications giant 3 appealed against the decision and had it upheld by a Government planning inspector who visited the earlier this year.

"No development shall take place until after the development has been painted in accordance with a colour scheme to be approved in writing by the local planning authority," said the inspector responsible for the report.

"This decision was an absolute joke," said Rupert Read, a city councillor for Wensum ward who was influential in helping form the campaign against the mast in the first place.

"It adds insult to injury, to throw us the sop of letting us choose the colour of this mast, a mast that we do not want.

"That's why, next Tuesday, we are putting a question to full Council, asking the Lib Dem Executive whether or not they agree with us that the Planning system in Britain needs to be completely overhauled.

"We Greens believe that new legislation is needed to give Councils complete control over the siting of phone masts."

Tom Llewellyn, a Green Party activist, said that the mobile phone mast issue was "vital to our health and the health of our children".

"Other countries, for instance Germany, have instituted a moratorium: Britain doing so too is long overdue, and we would like Norwich to lead the way on this," he said.

"Network coverage in the Norwich area is already perfectly adequate: we don't need, and we don't want, any more masts."

Through the Put Masts on Hold campaign the Evening News has campaigned against the installation of mobile phone masts near homes and schools until it is proved safe.

Last week the Evening News reported how Dr Ian Gibson chaired a meeting of MPs and experts in London which called for an overhaul of the current planning system in relation to masts.

However MORI research carried out over the past five years shows a positive improvement in all areas of consultation and information year on year.

Some of the findings of the research, which was published last week, found that four in five planners agreed there has been an improvement in the quality of information and level of consultation by operators.

"Operators are successfully filling the information gap for planners that was identified five years ago," said Mike Dolan, executive director of the Mobile Operators Association.

"They are meeting planners' expectations and delivering improved information and communication, both with local authorities and local communities."


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