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Louise Batchelor, environment correspondent
"Parents in Scotland have welcomed the UK report and the Scottish Parliament's recommendations"
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Thursday, 11 May, 2000, 13:40 GMT 14:40 UK
Planning change call for phone masts
Mast near houses
Worries have been expressed over masts near houses
MSPs have demanded that full planning permission be required for all new mobile phone masts in Scotland - amid fears they might be linked to ill health.

The call came during a debate on the issue in the Scottish Parliament on Thursday.

The UK Government has promised to fund comprehensive research into the possible health risks of mobile phones and masts after experts warned that they may pose a threat to children.

Mobile schoolgirl
A report recommends children ration use of mobiles
A report by Sir William Stewart said that although there was no current evidence of a health risk, children should be discouraged from making "non-essential" calls until further research has been completed.

The Scottish Parliament's transport and environment committee has already recommended that the current law, which allows mobile masts to be sited without full planning permission, be changed.

It concluded that health should be a factor when planning decisions are taken.

Members said public concerns over safety should be taken into account, although they did not recommend a minimum distance for masts to be sited from buildings.

Church's dilemma

MSPs were scheduled to vote to back tougher rules when they met on Thursday afternoon.

Andy Kerr, environment committee convener, said councils should consider introducing a "hierarchy of priority" for those buildings - such as schools and hospitals - which should not be used for mobile phone masts.

Meanwhile, the Church of Scotland has been asked to make a clear statement about where it stands on the siting of mobile phone masts.

Susan Deacon
Health Minister Susan Deacon on her mobile
The call came from the Reverend Les Donaghy, of St Andrew's Church in Dumbarton, who was offered 2,500 per annum from BT Cellnet for the next 10 years if he agreed to erect a mast at the church.

Churches have increasingly been asked by mobile phone networks to place radio telecommunications equipment on or next to their buildings.

Mr Donaghy said: "Apart from the fact that we thought a 47ft mast would look appalling, the health and safety aspect was a huge concern.

"We just don't know what the effect would be on the local population - especially the children."

The General Assembly's General Trustees have prepared a report on mobile phone masts for the assembly's annual gathering next week.

BBC programme

BBC Scotland's Frontline Scotland broadcast a programme about mobile phone masts on 8 February.

Read the transcript by clicking here.

Watch the programme by clicking here.

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See also:

11 May 00 | Health
Mobile phone research ordered
29 Mar 00 | Scotland
Tough call for phone masts
11 Nov 99 | Scotland
Public plea for phone masts ban
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