MORE POWERS NEEDED

Immediate Release

Number 196/00

17 October, 2000

Merton Council’s Planning Committee is demanding stronger powers to control the siting of telecommunications masts used by mobile phone systems.

Members unanimously recommended this should be the Council’s response to consultation by the Government on the findings of the expert Stewart Report.

The report said the radiation and health effects of the masts were, at present, uncertain and urged a cautious “precautionary” approach to their installation.

Currently, only masts more than 15 metres high require planning permission. The report recommends that all free-standing masts and telecommunications equipment, on buildings and other structures, should be subject to planning controls.

Councillor Philip Jones, Chair of Planning Applications and Licensing Committee, said: “There is widespread public concern over the health implications and appearance of these masts, but we have little control over them.

“Only this month, a planning inspector overturned our refusal of a mast on the Wimbledon telephone exchange, in a conservation area.

“We need to have a stronger say on behalf of the public, and residents need more opportunity to air their views. We urge the government to change the rules quickly.”

Ends