§ Mr. Ivan Henderson
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what representations he has received about the current planning laws relating to(a) mobile phones and (b) radio phone masts; and what plans he has to amend these laws. 323W
§ Mr. Raynsford
Under current planning legislation, telecommunications operators licensed by the Department of Trade and Industry generally have permitted development rights to erect masts of up to 15 metres in height. This is subject to a prior approval procedure which gives the local planning authority the opportunity to say whether it wishes to approve, within 28 days, details of the mast's siting and appearance. If the authority considers that the development will pose a serious threat to amenity, it may refuse approval. A planning application is required for the erection of a mast in protected areas such as National Parks, areas of outstanding natural beauty and conservation areas, and for masts above 15 metres in height elsewhere. We have received a number of representations about these controls, including those made by the working group of local authority and telecommunications industry representatives who have been reviewing my Department's Code of Best Practice for telecommunications prior approval procedures as applied to mast/tower development. We are giving careful consideration to the representations made by the working group, and expect to announce our conclusions in due course.