Mobile Phone Masts
From the Parish Magazine September 2001
As mobile phone use has increased so has the need for more masts to fill in the gaps in the networks. Applications for new or enlarged masts are becoming more frequent and Compton and Shawford saw four different applications in July. Two were approved and two rejected. It is the job of the Planning Committee of Winchester City Council to consider all applications and I have been asked to explain briefly the procedure and what needs to be considered.
The Government grants licences to companies to provide good quality coverage for mobile communications, including being able to use them within buildings. To do this the masts and base stations need to be close enough to communicate with each other. Hills and built up areas make this more difficult.
There are two types of application. ‘Prior notification’ is for masts of 15 metres or under when the committee will consider the siting and appearance of the mast. ‘Planning application’ is for masts over 15 metres when, as well as siting and appearance, the amenity of adjacent properties, access, noise and anything else that would be considered in a normal planning application will be discussed.
Once an application is in, a fluorescent notice is put up near the site and the Parish Council is notified. There is a limited time for people to write with objections. The Planning Department is happy to answer questions and give information. A Sub-Committee visit is arranged to the site and a different colour notice put up to let people know the date and time. WCC has produced a leaflet to explain what will happen at a site visit and space prevents me listing the procedure but there is a time when objectors and supporters can speak. The applicant will be expected to justify the need, to describe other sites they have considered and to confirm that their Equipment complies with the codes of practice laid down by ICNRP (International Commission for Non-ionising Radiological Protection).
Consideration will also be given to the possibility of mast sharing, which means fewer but taller masts. A decision is made to either grant, refuse or defer for more information.
We are all aware of new mobile phone masts appearing and it is important to try to minimise their impact and keep sites as hidden as possible. If you would like more information or a leaflet do call me.