• 28 MAR 06
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    3G industry rights supplant democracy in the UK


    Mast Sanity press release “” 1st March 2006

    Anger Grows as the health of the nation is threatened and freedom of information denied as OFCOM, DTI and ODPM hide behind a wall of conspiracy, misinformation and lies.

    STOP PRESS “” 2 March 2006 The ODPM have released the ARUP today

    The ODPM, in collusion with the Department of Trade and Industry and OFCOM, are ignoring calls by councils, MPs. MEPs and phone mast campaigners, as well as their own advisors for planning controls, to prevent the further despoliation of this country by the telecoms industry.

    In ignoring calls by Sir William Stewart, the All Party Group on mobiles, councils, MPs, MEPs, mast campaigners and others to control the relentless spread of phone masts across the country, the ODPM has continued to allow the mobile operators to ignore (self-regulatory) codes of practice and guidelines and ride roughshod over the rights of individuals.

    DEVIOUS means used include refusing two separate requests for information by campaigners under the Freedom of Information Act, and secret high-level meetings with mobile phone operators in order to maintain the present system, all aimed at facilitating the installation of mobile phone masts behind the backs of people whose democratic rights are being violated.

    There is currently no regulation of the Mobile Industry in this country. Indeed, one of the requests denied under the Freedom of Information Act was for the findings of the ARUP study, which focused on how the Mobile Operators comply with the SELF-REGULATORY Codes of Best Practice and Ten Commitments. Campaigners believe that one of the reasons that the ARUP Study has not been released by the Government is because of the forthcoming auction of licences for the new Broadband regime next week, which completely by-passes local planners and the public. A report that very probably states that greater planning controls are needed will not go down very well when a regime to expand broadband which has NO planning controls whatsoever, is about to be introduced.

    The other request under the Freedom of Information act was made to OFCOM for statistics on the number of phone masts in Wales. This has also been met with a wall of silence.

    “The refusal of these requests, and the arrogant and unaccountable manner in which they have been denied are just the tip of the iceberg,” said Mast Sanity Trustee, Amanda Wesley.

    “Our democratic and human rights are being violated by the conduct of the ODPM, OFCOM and the DTI. One has to ask if the Freedom of Information Act or any report commissioned by the Government is worth the paper it is written on when they only seem prepared to release information that will not expose or embarrass them. The same applies to the Litchfield Report and the Stewart Report, both of which included the removal of permitted development rights, along with other recommendations which were ignored. This Government seems concerned only with protecting the commercial interests of the mobile phone industry no matter what the impact on ordinary people is.”

    Mast Sanity also believes that enormous pressure is being put on MPs to snub the forthcoming Telecommunications Masts (Planning Control) Bill which will be debated in the House this Friday, when it is presented by David Curry for its second reading.

    “This is the third attempt to get a Private Members Bill through parliament to tighten planning controls on phone masts, yet here we are again with MPs coming up with the same excuses as to why they can’t attend on Friday. They are in parliament to represent their constituents and it’s about time they made a stand and stood up for the democratic rights of their constituents. If MPs don’t turn up on Friday then they can’t look their constituents in the eye and claim to support a precautionary principle” says Mast Sanity press officer Sian Meredith.

    “It’s simply not good enough to use the excuse that there’s no point in turning up because they don’t think they can make a difference. If that’s the case they may as well not bother ever turning up in parliament at all! The ODPM, OFCOM and the DTI are ignoring the welfare and human rights of a growing number of people, yet no-one is making them accountable for the underhand ways in which they are advancing the interests of the mobile operators. Only MPs can implement legislation to stop this. There is growing anger amongst ordinary people.

    “These cosy chats behind closed doors between the Mobile Operators Association and their members and the Government, aimed at promoting and protecting the unique perks enjoyed by the industry are undemocratic. We need a serious investigation into the activities of the ODPM , OFCOM and the DTI, and the industry NOW to stop this disgraceful state of affairs from continuing.”


    Notes for Editors
    ARUP report – in 2004 the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister commissioned a study by the University of Reading and Arup to assess the impact that the code of best practice has had since its introduction and how local authorities have implemented the code and how the public perceives its operation. The ODPM received this report in March 2005.

    This Private Members Bill was previously presented by Richard Spring in April 2004, when the bill achieved a clear majority, but was not attended by enough MPs to make it onto the statute books, and Andrew Stunnell, in March of last year, when it was talked out of time.

    Litchfield Report para 21.32 recommended that railway telecommunications masts be subject to tighter controls, and there was a general recommendation to remove permitted development rights for all Part 24 installations, as well as bringing into the same process all other telecom networks that are catered for by Part 25.

    The Stewart Report (2005) recommended that all masts be brought under full planning permission and again there was a recommendation for the removal of permitted development rights which was ignored.

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