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Dundee Liberal Democrat Councillor highlights phone masts concerns

December 20, 2005 9:30 AM
Mobile phone mast.

Dundee LibDem councillor highlights phone mast concerns

Mobile phone base stations, or phone masts, have been a source of considerable debate, not just in Dundee but across Scotland and the rest of the UK. Concerns over their siting typically centre around health and aesthetic issues, while people's increasing use of mobile phones, and particularly new 3G services, constantly drives the need for new masts.

Here in Dundee there has been considerable concern about the way in which local decisions taken by Dundee City Council to refuse planning approval for masts in particularly sensitive locations have thereafter been overturned by the Scottish Executive's Reporters Unit. As Dundee Liberal Democrat Group Leader Cllr Fraser Macpherson recently commented - "This is a case of decisions taken by local councillors who have been democratically elected being overturned by unelected civil servants, who are often not local and unaware of the strength of legitimate concern by citizens affected."

A recent example was in respect of an application for an antennae at Baltic Works, Annfield Road, in Fraser's Tay Bridges Ward. Fraser successfully moved refusal of the application at the City Council's Development Quality Committee, largely because he felt the site was inappropriate due to its close proximity to Blackness Primary School and two health centres. Additionally, Fraser felt the mobile phone company concerned had not properly exhausted looking at more acceptable alternative sites.

Despite his success stopping the mobile phone mast application at Council Committee, the applicant was successful on appeal to the Scottish Executive's Reporters' Unit. Hardly a shining example of local democracy in action.

Modernising the Scottish Planning System

The Scottish Executive is currently undertaking a programme to modernise the Scottish planning system. This includes changes to the way in which decisions over the siting of phone masts are made. Following a White Paper : Modernising the Planning System, being issued, a bill - the Planning etc (Scotland) Bill - was introduced at the Scottish Parliament on 19th December. The deadline for written evidence is 6 March 2006.

The Parliament's Communities Committee has launched a call for evidence from all interested parties on the general principles of the bill - for more information - http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/nmCentre/news/news-comm-05/ccom05-006.htm

Fraser is interested in your views on phone masts - you can e-mail him at mastsconcern@frasermacpherson.org.uk

USEFUL LINKS FOR INFORMATION ON PHONE MASTS :

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