Law/Legal:
U.K. Conservatives' Cell Phone Masts statement

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Posted:
3 March 2000

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Fri, 3 Mar 2000 09:38:54 -0600 (CST)
From: "Roy L. Beavers" <rbeavers@llion.org>
To: emfguru <rbeavers@llion.org>
Subject: U.K. Conservatives' statement viz. Cell Phone Masts (Pegg)
 

Hi everybody:

Hazel Pegg <haznut@globalnet.co.uk> has forwarded the following document -- which I consider is remarkable in a number of ways.....

It is a very recent (March 1st) statement issued by the Conservative Party in the U.K.....  The "conservative" party in the U.S. (the Republicans) would certainly NOT be capable of such a document!!  Indeed, in my opinion -- even the "liberal" Democrats in the U.S. would not be capable of such a document!!!

While the document does not have the force of law, it is a statement which sets forth the principles under which the Conservatives intend to pursue an entirely new policy with regard to the siting of cell phone masts (towers) in the U.K.

Namely:  (paraphrased) until our knowledge about the science (of health hazards) dictates otherwise -- local communities should have (local) control over the decisions controlling the siting of cell phone masts in their communities!!!   (Can you folks "out there" waging your local battles on this issue ... imagine such ... in the U.S.....????!!)

As I read it, this policy would even allow the local communities to have a say in the all important question of exposure "standards.".....??!!

How utterly different from the philosophy that pervades the U.S.!!!!

In the U.S. (regardless of which political party might be in power), the OPPOSITE assumption is made:  NO ACTION WILL BE TAKEN TO CONTROL the HAZARD until the science is "conclusive.".......  Madness!!!!

You will enjoy reading the following.....  In this message, I am forwarding only the first half of the document -- but I will place the entire document on my website, filed under "Law/Legal".....

Cheerio......  (Folks, when we get something like this -- I feel that we ARE making progress.......)

Roy Beavers (EMFguru)
roy@emfguru.com

It is better to light a single candle than to curse the darkness

People are more important than profits!!


MOBILE PHONE MASTS: A COMMON SENSE APPROACH

(Brief detailing Conservative policy on mobile phone masts.
1 March 2000.)

Contents:

BACKGROUND

THE BLUE-GREEN AGENDA

SEVEN COMMON SENSE PROPOSALS
 
 

SUMMARY

"Key Points"

Public Concern:  There are strong concerns among the public about the location of mobile phone masts  in terms of their impact on the visual environment and possible adverse health effects.

Local Solutions to Local Problems:  We propose to give local communities a greater say over mast planning decisions and reform planning policy guidance on this issue. We have developed seven common sense solutions:

1. Planning guidance policy should be redrafted to take environmental and safety concerns into account.

2. Local communities should have a greater say on mast developments in or near areas of environmental importance.

3. Local communities should be allowed to question mast developments near schools, hospitals and residential buildings.

4. Local authorities must be better informed about all future mast developments to encourage coordinated development.

5. We will ensure mobile phone operators share masts to reduce demand for new masts.

6. We will investigate the viability of cross-network roaming within the United Kingdom, reducing demand for new masts in sparsely populated areas.

7. We will issue new guidelines over what is an acceptable means for blending masts into the local environment.

BACKGROUND

"Key Points"

The Problem with Mast Developments:  The erection of mobile phone masts is causing considerable concern in many parts of the country. There is a presumption in favour of development inherent in the current planning system which overrides environmental concerns. Moreover, measures to enforce environmental restrictions are weak, outdated and poorly enforced.

When legislation was introduced to encourage the fast-track development of the industry, the sheer numbers of masts that would result were not anticipated. Mobile phone masts can damage the visual environment; there are also real concerns over health risks from masts.

Importance of Mobile Phones:  Nonetheless, the mobile telecommunications industry is an important one, with a turnover of £6 billion and providing services to 24 million users.

Conservatives want to see a competitive industry with a comprehensive infrastructure. Yet Conservatives believe that environmental and commercial concerns do not have to be in conflict, if we take a common sense approach.

Local Solutions to Local Problems:  Conservatives believe that local communities should have a greater say over issues which affect them. Conservatives have already proposed to reform the planning process to make it easier and more transparent. We also want to give local communities a greater say over new housing developments.

We believe that local communities will welcome the opportunity to have a greater say over where masts are located.

Need for Action:  With new licences being negotiated for the next generation of mobile phone networks, as well as new evidence over possible health risks, it is vital that action is taken now. The new networks could result in up to 100,000 new masts across the countryside.

Conservatives want to protect our visual environment and respond to concerns over public safety. Correspondingly, we have developed common sense solutions to tackle these issues.

THE BLUE-GREEN AGENDA

"Key Points"

Labours Failure on the Environment:  Across the whole spectrum, Labour has failed the environment. Before the election, Labour announced that we will make the next Labour Government the first truly green government that Britain has ever seen.

Yet today the people of Britain see more congestion, more pollution, a commitment to build over our green fields on an unprecedented scale and a total failure to regenerate the inner cities.

Labours Taxes and Regulations:  This failure has more to do with the regulatory instincts of Labour than to lack of good intentions. Labour solutions are driven by a belief in control by red tape and taxation.

They cut against the grain of the market and personal endeavour. Their instincts are highly centralising, removing from local residents the ability to control and nurture their own villages and neighbourhoods.

The Blue-Green Agenda:  Conservatism and Conservation share common roots. They are both about preserving what is good in our world. Conservative philosophy and environmentalism are not in conflict and can work together.

The failures of Labour to deliver their overstated claims means that now this agenda is ripe for new thinking and for Conservative solutions.

Solutions which harness the power of the market, developing and encouraging British green technology for recycling and renewable energy; favouring local empowerment; protecting the countryside; and regenerating our urban landscapes.

Our ambition is to create a truly integrated, practicable package of reform to increase environmental practice cutting with the grain of the market and the desire of local communities: then we will see who is the first truly green government.

SEVEN COMMON SENSE PROPOSALS

"Key Points"

1. Mast Development Should Not Be Automatic:  Planning guidance policy should be redrafted to take environmental and safety concerns into account.  Planning policy on telecommunications (PPG8) states that to encourage telecommunications development, the presumption should be in favour of development, such that technological constraints may outweigh environmental concerns.

Britain now has a more developed network of masts and the mobile telecommunications industry has matured. Yet a far greater of masts have been constructed than was originally anticipated, and up to 100,000 more masts could be installed to service the next generation of mobile phones. Thus masts pose a far more serious threat to the environment than when the planning policy was originally drafted.

We believe that planning guidance should now be redrafted to provide a better balance between environmental and commercial concerns. We believe that operators should have to justify the need for a new mast when environmental or health and safety concerns are raised.

We will consult with local authorities, environmental groups and the telecommunications industry over the revised guidance.

2. Protecting Sensitive Areas:  Local communities should have a greater say on mast developments in or near areas of environmental importance.

Currently, masts erected in National Parks, areas of outstanding natural beauty, Sites of Special Scientific Interest, conservation areas, or the Broads, have to be approved with a full application for planning permission.

Full planning permission means that local communities can have a greater say over the development of new masts. It does not mean that there will be no masts, but it will mean that local, environmental as well as commercial considerations are taken into account.

We propose that full planning permission should also be required on Green Belt land, on listed buildings and on local wildlife sites. Full permission should also be required on areas near National Parks, areas of outstanding natural beauty, Sites of Special Scientific Interest, conservation areas, or the Broads, and if the mast is situated just outside such environmentally sensitive zones but is still visible (within line of sight, irrespective of camouflage).

3. Protecting Public Health:  Local communities should be allowed to question mast developments near schools, hospitals and residential buildings.

Mobile phone base stations emit electromagnetic fields and send and receive microwave radiation. There are concerns that these could be damaging to public health.

Children under 12 are especially at risk as their bodies are still developing and thus provide less protection from radiation, meaning they can absorb four times as much radiation as adults.

Scientific evidence of what distance constitutes a safe distance is inconclusive. It is common sense to allow a wider exclusion zone in sensitive areas until there is more reliable evidence.

Local communities should have a greater say over the controversial issue of mast developments in schools, hospitals and resid ential buildings.

We propose that mast developments within 15 metres of the boundary of such property should be subject to full planning permission. If necessary, we will increase the 15 metres limit depending on new scientific evidence and recommendations.

We will review this policy once more detailed scientific research has been completed on this topic. Sir William Stewarts Independent Expert Group on Mobile Phones has been investigating such areas. Until there is a conclusive scientific verdict, we believe that local communities should have a right to decide whether such masts are appropriate.

Our proposals will allow local authorities to react quickly to any new scientific evidence.

4. Ensuring Consultation with Local CommunitiesLocal authorities must be better informed about all future mast developments to encourage coordinat ed development.

At the moment operators have to prove to local authorities that they have explored mast sharing options before being allowed to erect a new mast. This is hampered by the fact that many local authorities do not have a record of all the existing masts in their area.

There can be little coordinated development when local authorities are not being informed of future plans by operators. The statutory requirement to do this in telecommunication licences is unenforced.

We propose that operators would have to notify planning authorities of one or two year forward plans for new masts so the needs of all operators are known to planning authorities when considering applications.

5. Enforcing Mast Sharing:  We will ensure mobile phone operators share masts to reduce demand for new masts.

PPG8 and DETR Circular 4/99 require operators to provide evidence that they have exhausted all possibilities of sharing an existing mast in the area. The Telecommunications Act 1984 requires operators to investigate using existing masts for joint use or erecting a new mast for joint use.

However, in practice, there is little incentive for mobile phone operators to share masts, or for surveyors to find mast locations that can be shared. While there is supposed to be a shared database of masts amongst operators and it is recommended for local authorities to keep one, there is actually little record of how many masts are shared.

Given only one third of existing masts are shared, we believe that greater steps should be taken to ensure more mast sharing. This is technologically viable.   However, to ensure this change is not unfairly retrospective or results in higher costs, we will phase in such sharing arrangements.

New Masts:  Planning regulations should be clarified such that new permission is conditional on other operators being allowed access to the completed phone mast, either at the time of construction or in the future. In the field of fixed line telecommunications, BTs local loop is accessible to many of its competitors. The principle of common carriage could be used to encourage operators to share masts.

New Licences: Wireless Telegraph Act licences are being prepared for the third generation of mobile phones (UMTS).  There is an obligation for licence holders to roll out a network covering 80 per cent of population by 2007.

New licences for the next generation of mobile phones will only be granted on the condition that the operators are prepared to share their masts.

This is particularly important as the new licences may indeed mean new operators enter the market; if they do not have access to masts, they will have to construct a whole new network of masts. Reducing barriers to entry for new mobile phone operators will also make the market more competitive, reducing prices for consumers in the new market.

New Technology: The Code of Best Practice urges operators to replace old masts with less intrusive new technology. There are no measures to enforce this. Targets should be set for the phasing out of old style masts and replacing with new technology as it is developed, as a condition of the new generation of licences.

We will consult with the telecommunications industry over the setting of charges between the mast owner and the sharing operators, to ensure that some of the capital cost of the mast and maintenance costs are passed onto the sharing operators.

By introducing sharing and ending monopolistic use of masts, economies of scale could be realised by all operators, which could help (expensive) mobile phone charges to fall.

6. Greater Network Sharing:  We will investigate the viability of cross-network roaming within the United Kingdom, reducing demand for new masts in sparsely populated areas.

When mobile phones are used abroad, phones roam on the networks of other operators. Agreements between phone companies calculate the cost of such network sharing, and a charge is passed onto the phone user. However, within the UK, apart from for emergency calls, there is no requirement for networks to provide roaming access to other networks subscribers.

Roaming amongst UK networks (subject to PCN and GSM differences) would mean network capacity in sparsely populated areas could be more efficiently used. This would reduce demand for mast provision in such areas where high network capacity is not required - these are often unspoilt areas of environmental importance.

Consumers would benefit as it would reduce instances of phone users being unable to use their phones because of poor coverage. Roamed calls would be more expensive than normal calls, but consumers could decide whether to activate their phone to receive roamed calls or not. As a result, we will explore the opportunities for cross-network roaming within the United Kingdom and consult with users and the industry.

7. Protecting the Visual Environment:  We will issue new guidelines over what is an acceptable means for blending masts into the local environment. Many operators attempt to camouflage their masts and blend them into the local environment. Not all are successful, as their results are often unconvincing (for example, tree masts which do not fit with nearby, real, trees).

We will redraft PPG8 detailing requirements for camouflaging masts, and what is acceptable in the context of the local environment. We will give local authorities a greater say over what forms of camouflage are and are not acceptable for their local environment.


For media enquiries, contact Vanessa Finneran
Tel: (020) 7984 8223  Fax: (020) 7984 8273
Email: vfinneran@conservative-party.org.uk

MPs with enquiries should contact Sheridan Westlake
Tel: (020) 7984 8073  Fax: (020) 7984 8273
Email: swestlake@conservative-party.org.uk

Conservative Research Department

The Conservative Party
32 Smith Square, Westminster
London SW1P 3HH
www.conservative-party.org.uk



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