Merton Council lobbies government for change

Merton Council has today expressed its sympathy to residents in the wake of the community voicing their frustrations over telecom operators perceived ease of being allowed to install equipment on land and buildings in the borough. Although, the council has very limited legal powers to control telecom equipment in Merton, council members and officers, as well as the local MP, are lobbying the Government to completely overhaul and tighten up of the telecommunications planning legislation and give greater powers to Local Authorities.

Orange submitted plans to the council, which included a licence notification with their intention to install telecom equipment at 169 Arthur Road. The plans are not a formal application asking for the council’s planning permission. And under the terms of the Town & Country Planning legislation no formal planning permission or prior approval is needed for the type of equipment to be installed.

Residents have expressed their fears about the health risks associated with telecommunications equipment. The Government has issued guidance to planning authorities saying that as long as an operator submits an ICNIRP (International Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection) certificate to show the proposed equipment meets basic health and safety requirements, then planning authorities should not consider the health risks. The courts have also made it clear planning is not the appropriate forum for an assessment of health risks.

Cabinet Member for Environment and Traffic Management, Councillor Tariq Ahmad said: ‘We are at one with the local community. Although the guidance provided by Government does little in giving local planning authorities any meaningful control over proposals it is clearly extremely important to residents that this is something the Council should have control over. We feel very strongly at Merton that the legislation needs to change and have lobbied the Government to give us and other planning authorities control over the telecom equipment. This issue needs to be looked at now and we will do all we can to ensure this application is stopped’.

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PRESS CONTACT

Sophie Poole
020 8545 3181

Background Information :

1) Would an Article 4 Direction be a solution in this case? No, it would not. This would only be appropriate if the proposals were classified as permitted development and we could then remove these pd rights. However, in this instance such is the small scale nature of the proposals they are not deemed to be development at all.

2) Why don’t these proposals e