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Monday, 23 July, 2001, 13:33 GMT 14:33 UK
Mobile masts crackdown begins
Mast near houses
The new laws will be the strictest in the UK
Strict new regulations for mobile phone masts have come into force in Scotland.

All ground-based masts must have planning permission and equipment on buildings will also be subject to controls.

The new regulations mean that Scotland has stricter controls on where masts can be sited than anywhere else in the UK.

Mobile phone companies will have to go through the full planning process before installing masts on the ground.

No development can take place without planning permission being granted

Deputy Planning Minister Lewis Macdonald
Previously only masts over 15m high had needed planning permission.

There will also be a limit on how many can be put on buildings and what height they can be.

In recent weeks, there have been angry protests over the siting of masts with groups mounting blockades to prevent developments from going ahead.

There have been long-standing concerns about potential risks from radiation, but the industry has denied that they pose any danger to health.

The Scottish Executive said the new rules will ensure that masts cannot simply spring up around the country without any thought for their impact on surrounding communities.

Lewis Macdonald
Lewis Macdonald: Looking to strike the right balance

Deputy Transport and Planning Minister Lewis Macdonald said the new regulations would benefit the planning authorities and the public.

Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland's Good Morning Scotland programme, he said: "This is not a complete ban on development but it does mean that no development can take place without planning permission being granted.

"These masts are all over the countryside and I think the context is that when the mobile telephone companies had their origins, the government of the day decided to give them a 'free-for-all' to let them develop when and where they wished.

"What we recognise is that as we go into the next generation of mobile phones there is likely to be a whole new set of masts put in place.

Represent public opinion

"And what we want to do is bring that new batch of masts into the planning system."

The minister said it was important to strike the right balance between public concerns and development rights.

"We are looking to both the planning authorities and the mobile phone companies to work together," Mr Macdonald said.

"If they can work together then the companies will be able to site masts where they need them and at the same time planning authorities will be able to represent public views and opinions."

However, campaigners opposed to a phone mast in Bearsden near Glasgow said their protest would continue.

Suzanne Halliday accused Orange of going back on its word by installing the concrete platform for a mast last week, despite assurances that the work would not go ahead.

All of the sites we choose must meet our technical needs

Orange spokesperson

She said: "As an action group we've met, we're arranging a public information meeting this Wednesday and we're exploring whether we have a legal issue with Orange in terms of them breaching their contract with us."

Orange confirmed that they would be continuing with the proposed development.

A company spokesperson said: "All of the sites we choose must meet our technical needs, our customers' coverage requirements, and comply with all planning and environmental regulations.

"Orange can therefore confirm that it will be proceeding with the proposed telecommunication installation at Grampian Way, Windy Hill.

"A typical Orange transmitter site operates at levels many hundreds of times below national and international guidelines, in areas where the general public would have access.

"Two-thirds of Orange sites are on shared or existing structures and many are located within existing buildings.

"We are, under the terms of our licence, expected to share any existing structures in order to reduce the number of new structures wherever possible.

"Orange is aware of the level of public concern regarding the siting of transmitters, however, there is no conclusive evidence that makes a link between exposure to radio waves, transmitters and long-term pubic health risks."

Lewis Macdonald, MSP
"We are looking to both the planning authorities and the mobile phone companies to work together"
Suzanne Halliday, campaigner
"We're exploring if it would be feasible to take out an interim interdict"
Business Correspondent Hayley Millar
"The Scottish Executive says it has to strike a balance."
See also:

25 Jun 01 | Scotland
Mobile phone mast crackdown
24 Jan 01 | Scotland
Chaos predicted over phone masts
06 Dec 00 | Scotland
MP urges halt to new phone masts
24 Nov 00 | Scotland
New curbs on mobile masts
27 Oct 00 | Scotland
Villagers' mobile mast pledge
30 Jun 00 | Health
Phone mast fears dismissed
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