HC Deb 10 June 2002 vol 386 cc1029-30W
Mr. Norman

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions whether he has made an estimate of how many extra mobile phone masts operators will require to complete their networks in the next five years. [59632]

Mr. McNulty

I have been asked to reply.

This is a matter for the individual telecommunications operators. However, the operators are fully aware of the importance we attach to keeping the number of masts to the minimum practicable, for example, through mast sharing, and to ensuring that those which are needed are designed and sited with sensitivity and care.

When rolling out their future network needs, and in addition to the statutory consultation requirements, the five mobile phone operators have made a series of commitments to deliver improved communication and consultation with local authorities and local communities. This includes providing local planning authorities with annual rollout plans for each authority's area. We strongly encourage operators and local planning authorities to carry out annual discussions based upon these plans. These will provide an early opportunity to discuss technical and environmental constraints and to explore possible alternative approaches, particularly the opportunities for mast and site sharing and also in terms of the location and design of the apparatus.

The Department is currently drawing up, in partnership with representatives of the mobile phone operators and local government, a revised Code of Best Practice, which will include advice and best practice on the delivery of mobile phone mast development.