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Telecommunications Masts

Volume 407: debated on Monday 23 June 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what steps he will take to introduce new legislation in respect of telecommunications masts to implement the recommendations contained in the Stewart Report of May 2000; and if he will make a statement. [120154]

Following the publication of the Stewart Report, the Department of the Environment issued a consultation paper in November 2000 on planning control for telecommunications development.In response to the consultation, the Department for Environment is following the precautionary approach in line with the recommendations contained in the Stewart Report, and the Department's new policy for telecommunications development is set out in Planning Policy Statement 10, which was published in April 2002.As regards the legislative changes, a Statutory Rule, which came into operation in June 2002, removed certain permitted development planning rights from telecommunications code system operators. The effect of this change was to subject development proposals for mobile phone masts and antenna to the full rigour of the normal planning process. Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK that has fully implemented this recommendation. The much stricter ICNIRP public exposure guidelines have now also been adopted throughout the UK.In view of this approach there are no plans at present to introduce further new legislation in respect of telecommunications masts.The Department is closely monitoring ongoing research in conjunction with the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety and will of course review planning controls and the advice contained in PPS 10 should this prove necessary.