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Meeting of the Environment and Leisure Overview and Scrutiny Committee held on 19/09/2006
UPDATE REPORT REGARDING MOBILE TELEPHONE TECHNOLOGY



Summary & Purpose
The purpose of this report is to update members of progress against actions arising from the review of issues regarding mobile telephone technology carried out in January 2006. This focuses on ;
1. correspondence with DCLG and LGA
2. progress on mapping information.
3. progress on Development Control Forum for roll out plans.
4. the use of technical consultants in defending decisions appealed.

APPENDIX B.1

Waverley Borough Council

Environment and Leisure Overview and scrutiny Committee

19th September 2006
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Title:
UPDATE REPORT REGARDING MOBILE TELEPHONE
TECHNOLOGY
[Wards Affected: All]
___________________________________________________________________

Summary and purpose:

The purpose of this report is to update members of progress against actions arising from the review of issues regarding mobile telephone technology carried out in January 2006. This focuses on ;
1. correspondence with DCLG and LGA
2. progress on mapping information.
3. progress on Development Control Forum for roll out plans.
4. the use of technical consultants in defending decisions appealed.

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Environmental implications:

The original report explored the environmental implications of siting mobile phone masts. The Council’s approach is to look at what would be the most appropriate site for a mast from the point of view of functionality and its impact on the environment and also at would be the most appropriate design for the location. The design of masts is continually evolving and the report explores the possibilities in terms of appearance and type of masts used in urban and rural locations.

Social / community implications:

The actions identified by the Council in terms of increasing dialogue between operators, the Council and the Community is important in assisting to resolve difficult issues resulting from proposed telecommunication development.

E-Government implications:

There are no direct e-government implications as a result of the recommendations in this report. However, a map showing the location of all telecommunications masts in the Borough will be published on the Council’s website.

Resource and legal implications:

There are no direct legal implications as a result of the recommendation of this report. Resource implications are contained throughout the report.

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Introduction

At it’s meeting on 25th May 2005, the Committee agreed the terms of reference for its review of current issues regarding mobile telephone technology. The review commenced with a special meeting held on 28th November when evidence was received from invited witnesses on a range of issues including the current planning policy regarding mobile telephone masts, the future plans of the mobile telephone operators, the concerns of local residents regarding the location of mobile phone masts, the main features of the Police communications system known as TETRA and finally the health and safety issues associated with mobile telephone usage.
Outcomes of the review

The review resulted in four main outcomes. These were:


The Committee then went on to consider some specific questions and agreed a recommendation to the Executive, which was subsequently endorsed by the Executive Committee. The questions are set out below and the response of the Committee to those questions is set out in italics.

(a) Should the Council make representations to central government on giving local planning authorities greater control over the determination of planning applications for telecommunications masts? Yes- Officers were instructed to do this on behalf of the Council.

(b) Is there a need for the Council to review its policy as landowner in respect of the location of masts and antennae? No

(c) Is there a need for the Council to have a specific policy on the use of mobile technology by Members and officers? No.

(d) Is further research required on the views of the local community? No.

(e) Do Members require any further clarification of the issues raised by the mobile operators in their presentation at the special meeting on 28th November? No.

(f) Do Members support the proposal that the rollout plans for 2007 should be the subject of a Development Control Forum in October/November this year? Yes. Officer instructed to discuss with operators.

(g) Do Members wish to receive any further information on the studies undertaken by other Councils? No but officers instructed to keep a watching brief and report updates as appropriate.

(h) Do Members believe that the Council should make representations to either the LGA or central Government that the current approach to the assessment of health considerations needs to be revisited?. Yes – Officers instructed to write to LGA.

(i) Is there is any value in the Council undertaking its own monitoring of radiation emissions from telecommunication masts? No.

(j) Does the Committee wish to receive any further information on the design of masts? No.

(k) Does the Committee have any observations on the suggested outcomes of the review set out in paragraph above? Quality of information at roll out plan stage needs to be improved.

Correspondence with Department of Communities and Local Government and the Local Government Association.

Officers wrote to these organizations as instructed. Copies of those letters are attached at appendix 1 for your information together with the response from DCLG. No response has been received from the LGA and a chase up letter has been sent.

Mapping Telecommunication Sites.

This work is complete and is now available on the Council’s mapping systems. It shows sites that either exist or have a planning permission.

Development Control Consultative Forum for Roll Out Plans.

The industry has reacted positively to the idea of using a DCCF to present its proposals to Members and the Parish and Town Councils. Officers are also discussing the concept of a drop in surgery, which will be available for all, including the public. Provisional dates have been identified in November 2006 for a possible DCCF. Discussions are also in train to improve the quality of the information and to make it more accessible via the use of the Council’s web site in advance of the DCCF and drop in sessions.

To facilitate and ensure that this process is of maximum value it is proposed that a further workshop should be held for Members in October 2006 on Telecommunication Development. The suggested dates for a workshop are as follows (all would be held in the Council Chamber at Waverley Borough Council from 6.30pm):

Thursday 5 October
Thursday 12 October
Wednesday 25th October or
Thursday 26th October.

The Committee is invited to express its preference at this stage.

Use of technical consultants in assisting the Council in considering telecommunication proposals.

Officers are grateful to Witley Parish Council for raising the profile of this issue as a result of planning appeal in its parish.

The Council has not used technical consultants so far to test proposals against issues such as the need for the development, the practicalities of mast sharing, range and geographical limitations etc. The Council so far as either taken at face value the analysis of these matters accompanying an application or where doubt has existed has in some cases refused permissions due to reasons “ that the Council is not persuaded by the technical arguments.” At appeal the Council has placed the emphasis on the operator to demonstrate compliance with the policy tests set out in Policy D11 of the Waverley local plan.

Witley Parish Council was concerned that this approach was not robust and the Council should seek to enlist technical assistance. Officers agreed to bring this matter to your attention for a view.

There are a few expert witnesses who work with Local Planning Authorities in this way and officers are currently exploring costs and services. Typically advice is provided at an hourly rate in the region of 125 per hour. Time on an individual application is unlikely to exceed three hours therefore there is likely to be a maximum cost per application of 375. Advice on written representation appeals is likely to be charged at similar rates to planning applications but hearings and public inquiries costs are likely to be based on a case per case basis.

With about 10 applications per year for new telecommunication sites and assuming 250 per case then a budget of 2,500 would be required.

The Committee is invited to express a view about utilizing such consultancies in assisting officers preparing advice on planning applications and appeals.

Recommendation.

1. The progress made against the action points above are noted.
2. The Committee expresses a preference for a date for a workshop on telecommunications development.
3. The Committee expresses a view about the principle of using technical witnesses to assist in the preparation of advice on proposals for telecommunications development.




___________________________________________________________________Background Papers (CEx)

There are no background papers (as defined by Section 100D(5) of the Local Government Act 1972) relating to this report.

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CONTACT OFFICER:

Name: John Anderson Telephone: 01483 523298
E-mail:jaanderson@waverley.gov.uk

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