Phone Mast Statement
Information for those residents who wish to object
to applications by phone mast companies such as O2, Orange, Hutchison
and Vodafone, for planning permission to erect masts in Merrow.
This statement is intended to provide information for those residents
who wish to object to applications by phone mast companies such
as O2, Orange, Hutchison and Vodafone, for planning permission to
erect masts in Merrow. There has been a rash of applications following
the closure of the DEFRA site and removal of masts that were sited
The process that is normally followed is:-
- The companies
will write a “pre-consultation” letter to affected
residents prior to making a formal application. This is to gauge
whether there is strong local opposition to their proposal. Residents
are invited to respond to the company if they have concerns.
- If a company
then decides to apply for planning permission, residents who live
near a proposed site should receive formal notification from Guildford
Borough Council of an application. The application is also advertised
which gives anyone wishing to do so, to object formally in writing
The main issue to be considered is whether the need for the apparatus
outweighs any possible harm to the visual amenities of the area
and/or the living conditions of nearby residents that might be caused
by the height and appearance of the pole.
MRA’s objections to masts and associated cabinets are usually
based on 2 principal points – inappropriate location and impact
on the environment. Just because a Telecom company maintains that
no alternative site exists, it does not mean that is sufficient
reason to justify the development. It can be opposed on the grounds
that the disadvantages outweigh the benefits.
Whilst health issues are often a concern for many residents, it
must be borne in mind that the companies provide information to
verify that the equipment complies with government guidelines. Consequently,
it is not enough just to assert a risk to health, evidence must
be provided to prove the risk and that is not generally possible
without scientific backup. However, a genuine perceived fear of
a risk to health will be taken into account if a person is so affected
DEBRA Phone Masts
Cllr. Sheridan Westlake has pointed to a very interesting section in PPG8 (national planning guidance on masts) on permitted development rights.
Permitted development rights
45. Much minor telecommunications development is permitted under the GPDO. However,
there may be circumstances where the exercise of a permitted development right may have a
serious impact on amenity. Where a local planning authority believes that the withdrawal of the
right is necessary, it may serve a direction under Article 4 of the Order.
46. Permitted development rights should not be withdrawn unless there is a real and specific
threat to the locality in which development is to take place. Article 4 directions made in respect
of satellite antennas on dwelling houses take effect immediately but expire at the end of six
months from the date on which they were made, unless disallowed or approved by the
Secretary of State. A direction made in respect of code system operators' apparatus and other
telecommunications developments will require the prior approval of the Secretary of State.
Blanket directions aimed at imposing full planning controls over a wide range of
telecommunications development will not normally be approved. But where a particular rural or
urban location seems likely to attract obtrusive or inappropriate telecommunications
development which would seriously threaten amenity, the Secretary of State will give
sympathetic consideration to directions submitted for approval.
47. There are also opportunities for a local planning authority to intervene, where appropriate,
in the details of certain permitted development, without going so far as withdrawing the right
itself. It is a condition of the permitted development right to install certain telecommunications
apparatus on a building so that it is, so far as practicable, sited so as to minimise its effect on
the external appearance of the building on which it is installed. If, in the view of the local
planning authority, an antenna, for example, has not been so sited, taking into account
technical and safety requirements (for example, in the case of a satellite television antenna,
line-of-sight and picture quality requirements), they may serve a breach of condition notice
requiring the resiting of the antenna. The grounds for such a notice would be that the condition
of the permitted development right has not been complied with, and that therefore the
development itself did not enjoy permitted development rights. This constraint on the permitted
development right does not allow the local planning authority to take away the right to install
the antenna, only to control the details of the installation; therefore, in any such intervention,
the authority should suggest their preferred siting to minimise the impact of the antenna.
48. Under permitted development rights telecommunications apparatus should be removed
from the land, building or other structure, as soon as reasonably practicable after it is no longer
required for telecommunications purposes. Such land, building or structure should be restored
to its condition before the development took place, or to any other condition as may be agreed
in writing between the local planning authority and the developer. If this is not carried out the
local planning authority may serve a breach of condition notice requiring the removal of the
equipment. The grounds for such a notice would be that the condition of the permitted
development right has not been complied with, and that therefore the development itself did
not enjoy permitted development rights.