July 16 2008

Dear Sir/Madam,

Recently I read an alarming report from the BBC concerning mobile phone masts which were erected after blunders by councils in England.

Legislation allows mobile phone companies to assume masts below 15m in height have been given planning approval if they do not hear in writing from a council within 56 days. The council is legally obliged to write to the companies within the given time, outlining whether the mast actually needs prior approval and whether or not the council objects to its siting and appearance.

On 68 occasions, councils in southern England have fallen foul of a legal loophole allowing masts to be approved if an operator is not sent an answer within that set time limit. In 39 of those cases, the council had intended to object to the application.

A catalogue of errors has been uncovered across southern England by the BBC. They include decisions being sent by second-class mail instead of first, letters being given the wrong date-stamp, officers calculating the time period incorrectly, the wrong decision notices being sent out and officers forgetting to state clearly enough that the application had actually been refused. This concerns this correspondent greatly.

I am therefore requesting that your council provides me with a full disclosure on issues relating to this most serious matter under the Freedom of Information Act 2000. I request the following specific information:

How many instances (if at all) did your council allow masts to be approved because an operator was not sent an answer within that set time limit

Full details in relation to each instance (if any) as mentioned in part one, including the size, height, and location of each mast, the identity of the operator, and why each operator was not sent an answer within the set time limit

Whether the council intended to object to each mast referred to in part two

This Act established a legal right of access to information held by public bodies and I believe the full disclosure of such material is in the public interest and is essential for maintaining public confidence and accountability in our local services.

I would therefore request a full disclosure in line with the aforementioned act, within the statutory 20 day limit.

Sincerely,
Adrian

North Down Borough Council

Thank you for your Freedom of Information request received today by email
regarding mobile phone masts.

This request is being dealt with and we will be in touch with you again and
within the 20 working days as laid down in the legislation.

Barbara Walker
for James Kilpatrick
Senior Administrative Officer

Barbara Walker
Administrative Assistant
North Down Borough Council
Town Hall
The Castle
BANGOR
BT20 4BT

Tel:( 028 9127 0371)
Fax:( 028 9127 1370)
email: [email address]

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North Down Borough Council

Dear Sir , thank you for your Freedom Of Information request in relation
to the above matter received by EMail on the 16th July last. I have to
advise you that in N Ireland Councils have limited powers compared to
other parts of the United Kingdom and they do not have responsibility for
Planning matters. I would therefore suggest you redirect this Freedom Of
Information request to the undernoted --

DOE
Planning Service Headquarters
Clarence Court
Adelaide St
Belfast
BT2 8GB

Regards

James Kilpatrick
Senior Administrative Officer
North Down Borough Council
Town Hall
The Castle
BANGOR
BT20 4BT

Tel: (028) 9127 0371
Fax: (028) 9127 1370
Website: www.northdown.gov.uk

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