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Telecommunications

Telecommunication mast register

The mast register provides details of the locations and service providers of mobile phone masts in Medway. This information can also be viewed spatially on the mast register map.

The council's powers as the planning authority

The council, through the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995 (the Order), controls works to existing structures and new sites.

Telecommunications operators have certain permitted development rights in accordance with their licences. Telecommunications development therefore falls into two categories: that which requires planning consent and that which merely requires the prior notification of the council.

Prior notification applications are submitted under Part 24 of the Order. Planning permission is not required but the applicants are required to notify the council of their proposals. Under the provisions of the Order, the council cannot object to the principle of erecting the mast but has 56 days to comment on the siting and design.

The council will place a notice on the site and will carry out consultations with affected neighbours.

Those telecommunications developments requiring planning permission are dealt with under the general guidelines and consultation letters are sent to all affected parties.

Public consultation procedures

The council notifies adjoining residents and those in close proximity to a site by letter. In addition, applications relating to telecommunications development are advertised in local newspapers and by site notice. It will notify local schools where proposals are nearby. Details of all telecommunication applications received from 1 January 2000 can be viewed online using the advance planning search. Search for Application Type, Prior Notifications - Telecommunications.

The council's powers as landowner

As a landowner, rather than as the local planning authority, the council has adopted an approach of examining each request to site equipment on its land or buildings on its merits and has adopted a policy not to allow such equipment at schools within its control.

Health and safety issues and planning

Health considerations and public concern are not normally material considerations in determining planning applications. The International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) guidelines state acceptable radiation emission levels for such equipment.

The view expressed by the Minister for Housing and Planning is that if a proposed development meets these guidelines, it should not be necessary for a planning authority to consider the health effects further.

Go to Making sense of radiation - A Guide to Radiation and its health effects.

The Stewart Report, published in May 2000, provided the conclusions of evidence collected by a team of independent experts on possible health effects of mobile phone technology.

Licensing

Operators of radio transmitting apparatus are required to go through a licensing process, which may include the radio site clearance procedure of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS). The Health and Safety Executive also deal with radiation safety, and as part of the licensing process operators are made aware of safety requirements.

The Mobile Operators Association (MOA), which represents the five UK mobile phone network operators (3, O2, Orange, T-Mobile and Vodafone) on planning issues, sends information to local authorities on an annual basis about mast sites within their area.

These plans provide an excellent opportunity at an early stage for the council to discuss the operators' plans for the forthcoming year and to work together to find an optimum solution for mobile network development in the area.

The operators have been complying with the commitment to send rollout plans since 2001 and for the last four years the information has been submitted jointly and electronically through the MOA.

The information covers operators' existing sites and envisaged new proposals for the next 12 months. It provides the council with a look ahead at the forthcoming mobile developments in Medway.

It should be noted that while the rollout envisaged for the forthcoming year is limited in some cases, it does not include replacement sites that will be required where an operator is served a Notice to Quit (NTQ) for an existing site.

The operators sometimes have insufficient advanced warning of when they may be served NTQs on existing sites and therefore information on alternative sites cannot be included in the annual rollout plans.

As the purpose of the rollout plans is to provide a high level overview of existing network sites and planned new sites for the forthcoming year, it is not appropriate or possible to provide location maps or detailed designs for each proposed new site at this stage.

This detailed information will be supplied with the planning application for a particular site. To help you fully understand the existing and proposed situation, the council has introduced a map-based register. 

This can be subject to change, so you are most welcome to contact the council, using the details below, for the latest information about a particular site or area that you are interested in.

The Medway Technical Guide for the Installation of Telecommunications Equipment

In October 2006, cabinet approved the publication of The Medway Technical Guide for the Installation of Telecommunications Equipment (pdf 357KB). To use this and the other pdf files on this page you will need Adobe Acrobat Reader. If you do not have this on your computer please use our advice page.

The council recognises that modern telecommunications are an essential and beneficial element of the economy and that the industry is continuing to develop rapidly. Government policy is to facilitate the growth of telecommunications while keeping the environmental impact to a minimum. The government also has a responsibility for protecting public health.

The council also recognises that applications relating to telecommunication development can generate significant public concern primarily centred on issues of health and visual intrusion.

There is very little discretion available to local authorities in dealing with applications for such equipment.

This technical guidance document aims to influence service providers, inform local people and assist in the determining of telecommunications applications - both full planning applications and applications submitted for prior approval.

Further information

Code of Best Practice on Mobile Phone Network Development (pdf 3,182KB)
Planning Policy Guidance 8: telecommunications (pdf 316KB)