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Mast Sanity
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CO11 1SD
Alan Duncan (AD)said, "The Network Rail thing is probably for internal communications ... for all their own signalling so you can separate that for a moment from phone operators like Vodafone and T-Mobile"

AD is wrong to claim that the Network Rail's masts are NOT being used by or for Mobile Phone Operators - UltraMast, the forerunner of the company now rolling out the Network rail masts, proudly said on its website that they would “offer phone operating companies the ability to rapidly enhance their network coverage by implementing a quick mast roll-out plan across the country in locations that have not been previously accessible to them.” ( sadly the original website is gone, but the quote still exists here ) And the mast that Jasper Carrott showed us certainly had multiple transmitters on it - certainly more than we would expect just for signalling purposes.

AD: "I've found, I've had lots of constituency cases and by enlarge they [the Mobile Phone Operators] will move them after consultation, they'll do mast sharing, they do not put them near schools and they have become increasingly cooperative in working out where they are sited. I've had a lot of success in getting them moved."

AD is wrong to say that Mobile Phone Operators will move the site of a proposed mast in consultation with locals - in our experience and all the people we are in contact with, this hardly ever happens. The three masts near to two campaigners have not been moved away despite so-called 'consultation' and a hard fight by residents not to have the masts put up so near to housing. Another lady's fight to get the mast moved away from the local school took 10 years of hard fighting. This mast, incidentally, was erected "under cover of night and without consultation with parents or local residents". See here .

AD also contradicted himself by saying that masts were not sited by schools, then back tracked when challenged by Jasper Carrott - who mentioned a mast overlooking a local school in Knowle, Birmingham, to say "I'm not saying [that] there're not any [Mobile Phone Masts near schools]". There are hundreds of examples where this does happen, probably thousands - as BBC 3's "3 Investigates" discovered over 18 months ago. As you can see, London has a large number of schools which Mobile Telephone Masts have been erected close to. All the four masts local to us overlook primary schools and their playing fields.

AD is, in our opinion and experience, completely wrong to state that the Operators are increasingly cooperative regarding the siting of masts. In our own experience and the experience of many people we have been in contact with over the siting of masts, the Mobile Phone Operators have never been cooperative regarding mast siting and, indeed, they are actually becoming more arrogant and appear to be resorting to ever more devious means to get their masts erected.

AD said "...basically it's down to Planning, it's not the Government saying masts go here, there and everywhere. If it's [the Mobile Telephone Mast] under 10 metres there are not many [Planning] restrictions, if they're over 10 metres there are lots and increasingly they [the Mobile Phone Operators] are very good at consulting local people, sharing masts and by enlarge most of the network is now complete anyway."

AD was incorrect to say that there are different regulations for masts over and under 10m - the height cut-off point for full planning is over 15m - most get the go ahead automatically below 15m - or by stealth under the 56 day time limit. I am disappointed that you don't know such regulations as the man who has introduced a Private Members bill to reduce roadside clutter - a good proportion of which is made up of Mobile Phone Masts under 15m!

With the 2007 deadline for 3G roll-out before OFCOM issues penalties for any coverage gaps, the number of new masts is currently ACCELERATING. AD is wrong to say that the network (roll-out) is nearly complete. Network Rail, Wi-fi and WiMax roll-outs are increasing this acceleration.

You said "...but I think that the combination Jasper's woven together of a sort of conspiracy theory based on profit just goes a little bit too far to be convincing"

Lets face it, the Government were happy to take the cigarette taxes for 57 years after the first smoking health concerns were raised before introducing the smoking ban. Many people believe that they are equally willing to ignore the health issues with mobile phones, masts and similar for as long as they can, as long as they get their tax revenue.
Alan Duncan can be contacted via e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .
The Daily Politics show can be contacted via e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .