HC Deb 22 April 2002 vol 384 cc48-9W
Mr. Cox

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what powers he has to intervene in decisions on the installation of a telecommunication mast in a residential area once the local council authority has given permission for the installation of the equipment; and if he will make a statement. [50861]

Ms Keeble

Local planning authorities have powers under section 97 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 to make orders to revoke or modify a planning permission, prior to it being implemented, where they consider it expedient to do so. If an order is opposed, it has to be confirmed by the Secretary of State before it can take effect.

The Secretary of State also has powers, under section 100 of the Act, to revoke a planning permission granted by a local planning authority. However, the Secretary of State will generally use this power only if the original decision is judged to be grossly wrong, so that damage is likely to be done to the wider public interest.

Under section 102 of the Act, local planning authorities also have power to make an order, requiring that any use of land be discontinued or continued subject to conditions or that any buildings or works shall be altered or removed. Such an order will not take effect unless it is confirmed by the Secretary of State.

Section 104 of the Act gives the Secretary of State powers to make discontinuance orders himself.

Mr. Pike

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what his Department's policy is on the siting of mobile phone masts; what recent discussions he has had on the siting of mobile phone masts; and if he will make a statement. [51460]

Ms Keeble

Current planning guidance on telecommunications is set out in Planning Policy Guidance note 8 (revised) (PPG8).

Our general policy is to facilitate the growth of telecommunications systems while protecting the environment.

We attach considerable importance to keeping the numbers of telecommunication masts to the minimum consistent with the efficient operation of the network. We strongly encourage the sharing of masts and sites, where that represents the optimum environmental solution in a particular case, and the use of existing buildings and other structures to site new antennas. We also encourage the use of sympathetic design and camouflage.

On 22 August 2001, following consultation, we significantly strengthened the planning arrangements for telecommunications development. We: strengthened public consultation requirements on mast proposals of 15 metres and below and for masts on buildings and structures so that they are exactly the same as applications for planning permission increased the time for authorities to deal with prior approval applications from 28 and 42 days to a uniform 56 days underlined that school governors must be consulted on all proposals for new masts on or near a school or college increased fees to enable authorities to carry out full public consultation.

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