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Environment correspondent Louise Batchelor
"The executive says that the changes should stop the phone companies' free-for-all"
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Monday, 25 June, 2001, 18:02 GMT 19:02 UK
Mobile phone mast crackdown
Mast near houses
The law will come into effect next month
Tough new controls have been announced by the Scottish Executive to end the mobile phone mast "free-for-all".

All ground-based masts will be subject to full planning control under the new regulations.

And there will be a limit placed on the numbers allowed on buildings.

These regulations will remove the feeling of powerlessness and frustration experienced in towns and villages in all parts of the country

Lewis Macdonald
The regulations, which will come into force in late July, mean Scotland will have the tightest controls over mobile phone masts in the UK.

Until now only masts over 15m tall have required planning permission.

However, mobile phone companies will have to go through the full planning process before installing any masts on the ground.

There will also be restrictions on the number and height of masts on buildings.

There have been some angry protests over masts close to buildings, with communities mounting blockades.

Deputy Transport and Planning Minister Lewis Macdonald laid the new controls before parliament on Monday.

More say

Mr Macdonald said: "These planning controls will stem the free-for-all on the erection of mobile phone masts in communities across Scotland.

"I believe we now have rules that give more say to ordinary members of the public.

"No longer will companies be able to plant masts indiscriminately.

"These regulations will remove the feeling of powerlessness and frustration experienced in towns and villages in all parts of the country."

He said the executive would monitor the effectiveness of the regulations in the coming months.

Lewis Macdonald
Lewis Macdonald put forward the regulations
"Throughout this summer I will meet with the telecommunications industry to discuss the implementation of the regulations," he added.

"I will also seek to gauge to what degree the regulations will influence the future direction of mobile phone mast technology in Scotland.

"We have sought to achieve a balance between differing viewpoints on the issue of planning controls on mobile phone masts."

Consultation on proposed guidelines giving councils more powers over the building of masts was launched by the Scottish Executive last year.

Mr Macdonald said the executive had gone a long way towards adopting the recommendations of the Scottish Parliament's Transport and Environment Committee.

However, he said it was important that telecommunications companies could still develop their networks and continue to serve the growing demands of customers.

Close to schools

"We will no longer allow the mobile phone industry to continue unfettered, peppering neighbourhoods with masts, but we recognise that to require planning applications for every antenna would risk clogging up the planning system," he said.

"Many people expressed concerns about masts being placed close to schools.

"These new regulations will require companies to seek full planning permission for any plan to site a mast on ground near a school."

Kevin Dunion of Friends of the Earth Scotland welcomed the guidelines.

However, he also voiced concerns that they could still lead to more masts being erected on public buildings like schools.

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See also:

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Chaos predicted over phone masts
06 Dec 00 | Scotland
MP urges halt to new phone masts
24 Nov 00 | Scotland
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