Local council pays the cost of planning permission refusal

A decision by councillors to refuse permission for a mobile phone mast will cost Counciltax payers in Tameside, Manchester, Cell:cm has learned.

News reports from 103.6fm Tameside Radio say a legal bill expected to total several thousand pounds is expected at the Tameside Council Offices in the near future, after the Planning Inspectorate determined Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council should be liable for the bill.

The Council’s Planning Speakers’ Panel meeting today hears why.

It was last Spring (2011) when the panel refused permission for a new mast at Droylsden Cricket Club. The majority of Council members on the panel felt the mast would add to other nearby towers to produce radiation levels that were a risk to human health. However, That decision was against the advice of the Borough’s own planning officers and international guidelines (ICNIRP) adopted by the UK government.

All advice to the panel had been to approve the mast, with one member of the public who spoke against the proposal.

The mast was due to be built by Cornerstone – a joint project between mobile networks O2 and Vodafone. When they heard the mast had been refused permission, they lodged an official appeal against the decision. The Planning Inspector found in favour of Cornerstone and agreed they should be able to build the mast. The Inspector also agreed that Tameside Council should pay the costs incurred by Cornerstone in lodging the appeal.

Dr Rob Matthews, Electromagnetic Field Manager at Cornerstone, told us they were taken aback by the initial decision: “Given the fact that there is very clear government guidance on how to deal with health concerns, it was very aparrent that the committee decided not to follow that government guidance.

In this particular case, we felt the refusal had been unjustified and the fact we had to appeal it was unreasonable.”

He also wanted to make it clear there should have been no issue with the health of local residents saying the new Base Station would only be one thousandth of the ICNIRP guidelines and  a very small fraction in comparison to emissions from everyday items like fridges and hoovers.

There was apparently no justifiable reason as to why the council should have refused this application in the first place. Cornerstone did include the emissions coming from other base stations that were in the vicinity. When taking those into account the application did comply with international guidelines.

Cell:cm has seen this type of result in planning appeals on many previous occasions. If you own a property close to where operators are submitting a contentious mast planning application please do get in touch with us. We can promote the availability of your site to the operators and the local planning authority which may be preferable to them.

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