Telephone Masts

Links
Ofcom
Campaign for Planning Sanity
(very comprehensive advice for local groups in dealing with mast applications)

Powerwatch
(Independent group campaigning on masts, high voltage cables etc)
Q&A about Communications Code


Environmental Law Foundation
- may be able to offer legal advice to affected communities.
Mast Action
is another campaigning group which offers to sell a briefing pack.


Mobile Operators' Association
(the industry operators' site)

Latest News
See Friends of Hartley Countryside's Letter of Objection to Downs Valley mast application, which was refused by Sevenoaks Council on 12 August 2004.

At the time of writing Hartley is threatened with two mobile phone masts at (click on link for details):

Research raises health concerns on 3G masts
A study for the Dutch government found "statistically significant" adverse effects from a study into the effect of the higher frequency 3G masts. They called for more research on their findings. See articles in Powerwatch, NRPB

Phone masts do affect property values
The Independent property database company Hometrack has found masts reduce the value of a house by 3% - that's over 10,000 off the value of an average house in Hartley.

The Friends of Hartley Countryside have a strong track record in fighting against inappropriate development in Hartley, in particular mobile phone masts. We have been very concerned about these proposed telephone masts which are not only in the Green Belt, but also close to people's homes.

On this page we have set out some background notes on the subject.

Where are the existing masts in Hartley?

Where are there Masts in and around Hartley?

This information has been taken from the Radiocommunications Authority Database, which can be accessed at Ofcom's website

Location Height Operator
Hartley Post Office, Ash Road (KNT7143) 4.4m (1800 MHz) Orange
Junction Woodlands Avenue/Larksfield (KNT7142) 5.5m (1800 MHz) Orange
Longfield Telephone Exchange (5451) 14m (900MHz) O2
Longfield Telephone Exchange (DA0118) 10m (2100 MHz) Hutchison 3G
The Gallops, Longfield (KNT0145) 18.8m (1800 MHz) Orange
The Gallops, Longfield (ref 91374) 15.5m (1800 MHz) T-mobile
Pylon ZZT019 Rabbits Farm, Rabbits Road, Longfield (DA0122) 24m (2100 MHz) Hutchison 3G
By railway, Gills Farm (KNT0166) 14m (1800 MHz) Orange
Nurstead Avenue, Longfield Hill No details No details
Milestone School, Ash Road (ref 7366) 16m O2
Hemsley's Yard, Ash Road (4298) 15m (900 MHz) Vodafone
Beechcroft Farm, Chapel Wood Road, New Ash Green (TN00222) 13m (2100 MHz) Hutchison 3G
Beechcroft Farm, Chapel Wood Road, New Ash Green (4885) 21m (900 MHz) Vodafone
Beechcroft Farm, Chapel Wood Road, New Ash Green (91398) 25m (1800 MHz) T-Mobile
Beechcroft Farm, Chapel Wood Road, New Ash Green (KNT0146) 18.5m (1800 MHz) Orange
Speedgate Farm, Mussenden Lane (47) 36m (900 MHz) Vodafone
Speedgate Farm, Mussenden Lane (90405) 19m (1800 MHz) T-Mobile

What are the rules on masts?

Planning Policy Guidance Note 8 - Telecommunications

The government has issued a number of "PPGs" which local authorities have to take into account when deciding whether to grant planning permission. PPG8 deals with telephone masts:
  • Phone companies are encouraged to discuss roll out plans annually with the local authority (paragraph 8), and to have pre-application discussions with bodies such as local authorities and local residents and amenity societies (paragraphs 9-11)
  • The local planners must consult any school near by (paragraph 13), as must the developer (app - para 62)
  • "In Green Belts, telecommunications development is likely to be inappropriate unless it maintains openness. Inappropriate development may proceed only if very special circumstances are demonstrated which outweigh the degree of harm to the Green Belt. The lack of a suitable alternative site that would meet the needs of network coverage or capacity might be considered as very special circumstances" (paragraph 17)
  • "In order to limit visual intrusion, the Government attaches considerable importance to keeping the numbers of radio and telecommunications masts, and of the sites for such installations, to the minimum consistent with the efficient operation of the network" (paragraph 19). They strongly urge mast sharing where that represents the optimum environmental solution (paragraph 20). They expect applicants to show they have considered using other mast sites or structures first (paragraph 21)
  • Sympathetic design and camouflage should be used to minimise the visual impact (paragraph 24)
  • "Health considerations and public concern can in principle be material considerations in determining applications for planning permission and prior approval. Whether such matters are material in a particular case is ultimately a matter for the courts. It is for the decision-maker (usually the local planning authority) to determine what weight to attach to such considerations in any particular case." (paragraph 29). Although they appear to believe a certificate of compliance with ICNIRP guidelines to be enough.
  • The appendix mentions capacity can be increased by adding antennae to existing masts - "cell splitting" (App - para 23).
  • Applicants are expected to demonstrate the need for the mast (App - para 54)
  • On property values, the government usually says (PPG1) that planning authorities cannot take regard of effects on this but on masts they say: "the material question is not whether a particular development would cause financial or other loss to owners and occupiers of the neighbouring property, but whether the proposal would have a detrimental effect on the locality generally, and on amenities that ought, in the public interest, to be protected." (App - Para 56)
  • Planning authorities can restrict development to one site by use of binding "section 106" planning agreements to allow sharing (app - para 70)

Sevenoaks District Plan Policy number EN29 states that says telecommunications masts are only acceptable if there are no less obstrusive sites available, there is no possibility of sharing sites, and no mature trees will be lost.

The government has set out different rules on telephone masts depending on their size.

The following masts fall under a planning regime called "permitted development":

  • masts under 15m (about 50ft) in height.
  • masts under 10m (about 33ft) in height on buildings (unless the building is over 30m high, but there probably aren't any buildings that tall in Hartley). There is also an additional requirement that the top of the mast should not be 6m (about 20ft) higher than the highest part of the building (8m (about 26ft) if the building is 15-30m (33-50ft) tall).
  • masts on buildings less than 15m in height which are more than 20m from a highway

This is where the phone company claims that they are building a small mast in accordance with the terms of the licence given to them by the government, and have informed the landowner concerned. However local councils can still lodge objections on the grounds of siting and appearence.

The law relating to this is set out in the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995, as amended by the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (Amendment) (England) Order 2001. The text of these can be read at HMSO's website.

Useful links

Campaign for Planning Sanity - a large amount of legal materials on telephone masts. This includes some very full briefing notes.