Telecommunications Masts and Antenna Installations
For many people mobile phones are a part of everyday life. With increased use comes increased requirement for the provision of mobile phone masts and antenna installations, the siting of which often generates a lot of public interest particularly in residential areas or near to schools. This page provides you with more information about mobile phone masts and how the Council works to minimise their impact on the amenity and character of the Borough.
How can I find out if there is a phone mast or base station near me?
Click on the link on the right hand side of this page to view the Telecommunications Register. This tells you the location of masts in the Borough of Poole, including those that have not been granted permission or are not operating yet.
'Sitefinder' Mobile Phone Base Station Database is a national database of mobile phone base stations and their transmitting power. Visit the “sitefinder” website to find out if there is a phone mast or base station near you.
Additionally, current Mobile Operator plans can be seen by downloading the 'Telecomm Rollout Plan' document from the right hand side of this page.
Why don't all masts require full planning permission?
Generally full planning permission is only required if a mast is greater than 15 metres in height (although there are some exceptions). New masts below this height are dealt with under Part 24 of the General Permitted Development Order (Amendment)(England)(2001). For new masts this means that we have 56 days to make a determination otherwise it is deemed to be Permitted Development, and (subject to landowner consent) can be erected. Other telecommunications development may be erected on buildings or on existing masts, in these cases planning permission may not be required, subject to criteria set out in the Order.
Who should be consulted?
New Guidance from Government in the revised PPG8 states that publicity for applications should be dealt with on a cases by case basis. For some time the Borough of Poole has been consulting with immediate neighbours and those close by of proposed mast locations.
What about masts proposed in locations on or adjacent to schools?
Telecoms operators should discuss proposals on or near schools with the relevant school or college before submitting any application and should provide evidence of doing so, when an application is submitted. The local planning authority should consult the schools governing body in the form of a written letter when applications are received.
What about the health considerations?
Electro magnetic fields and antennas emit Electro Magnetic Fields (EMF's). These are the source of public concern. Research by the Independent Expert Group on Mobile Phones (The Stewart Group) concluded that:
"The balance of evidence indicates that there is no general risk to health of the people living near to base stations (Masts) on the basis that exposures are expected to be small fractions of the guidelines."
But it was also concluded that the possibility of harm could not be ruled out with confidence. Therefore a precautionary approach was recommended and this was accepted by government.
These precautionary measures are as follows:
- Emissions from masts should not exceed the maxima recommended by the International Commission on Non Ionising Radiation Protection (ICNIRP).
- A national database was set up giving information on base stations (Masts) and their transmitting power. This is the sitefinder website which is now operational
- An independent audit of all base stations should be established.
Why is the planning department unable to take into account health considerations when determining mast proposals?
Government advice states that all telecommunications proposals should be submitted with an ICNIRP (International Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection) Certificate. Beyond this, health effects should not be considered further by the LPA.
It is the government's firm view that the planning system is not the place for determining the health safeguards and if a mast meets the ICNIRP guidelines then it should not be necessary for a local planning authority to consider health aspects further.
The enforcement of health and safety issues relating to Masts is a matter for the Health and Safety Executive and not the local planning authority.
Is there a minimum legal distance masts should be located away from property?
Government Guidance (PPG8) states that Local Planning Authorities should not insist on minimum distances between new telecommunications development and existing development.
What are the major factors that are taken into account to ensure the impact on the amenity of the town is minimised?
The visual impact of the mast in the proposed setting, The height of the mast. Whether or not it would be appropriate to include landscaping around the mast and whether the design of the mast is appropriate in the context of its proposed location. When an application is made the operator needs to adequately demonstrate that they have a need for the proposed development in order to provide signal coverage to their customers. The Local Authority has to be mindful of the operators need to establish coverage when applications are determined.
What is the Government’s position on phone masts?
For more information on the operation of the planning system in relation to telecommunications and planning policy visit the Communities and Local Government website.
Where can I get more information about phone masts?
There are some excellent sources of information available via the internet. Here are some useful websites you might be interested in visiting: