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Local Councils must work better with mobile operators

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“Mobile phone operators have greatly improved their consultation with communities and councils. It is now up to councils to play their part and work with operators” said Mike Dolan, Executive Director of the Mobile Operators Association.

“We told the All Party Group that during the past three years the mobile operators have made considerable changes to working practices to ensure that necessary network development is achieved in a transparent manner, informing and involving the general public and their elected representatives. As part of this information all operators give councils an annual plan of current and proposed mobile phone sites and ask to consult on these proposals.”

He added, “It is extremely disappointing that only two or three percent of councils take up the offer of this early consultation. Where consultation does take place, it has been very successful. The industry is doing its bit – local authorities need to do more.

He continued, ”Greater planning controls will do nothing to address community concerns. Rather, they would hold up the development of the next generation of mobile networks, to the detriment of businesses and communities alike. It is not the planning system that needs to change; it is the way in which planning authorities work with the industry that needs to improve.

"Mobile communications continue to bring tremendous social and economic benefits to the UK economy. There are 50 million mobile phone users in the UK and those mobile phones need a network of radio base stations in the right places in order to work.”

Notes to Editors

1. The Mobile Operators Association (MOA), formerly the FEI, was set up to represent the five UK mobile phone network operators - 3, O2, Orange, T-Mobile and Vodafone - on radio frequency health and planning issues. The MOA website is:

2. The UK mobile phone operators implemented the Ten Commitments to best siting practice in 2001. Key elements of this initiative are improved transparency, more publicly available information, and improved communication and consultation with local authorities and the public.

The Ten Commitments are:

  • develop, with other stakeholders, clear standards and procedures to deliver significantly improved consultation with local communities
  • participate in obligatory pre-rollout and pre-application consultation with local planning authorities
  • publish clear, transparent and accountable criteria and cross-industry agreement on site sharing, against which progress will be published regularly
  • establish professional development workshops on technological developments within telecommunications for local authority officers and elected members
  • deliver, with the UK Government, a database of information available to the public on radio base stations
  • assess all radio base stations for international (ICNIRP) compliance for public exposure, and produce a programme for ICNIRP compliance for all radio base stations as recommended by the Independent Expert Group on Mobile Phones
  • provide, as part of planning applications for radio base stations, a certification of compliance with ICNIRP public exposure guidelines
  • provide specific staff resources to respond to complaints and enquiries about radio base stations, within ten working days
  • begin financially supporting the UK Government's independent scientific research programme on mobile communications health issues
  • develop standard supporting documentation for all planning submissions whether full planning or prior approval

3. For more information please contact Christine Jude 0207 331 2029, 0207 331 2029, 07714 241924, 07714 241924, email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

61% of UK adults access the internet from mobiles

Mobile phones cannot work without a network of base stations (masts). There are approximately 52,500 base station sites (excluding microcells) in the UK. Only a third of these are large, free standing masts. A YouGov survey for MOA (Sept 2014) showed that nearly 8 out of 10 people recognise the link between masts and good mobile coverage. Mobile telecommunications are vital for the UK’s economic competitiveness and in promoting social inclusion. There are now 89.9 million mobile subscriptions in the UK. In Q1 2015 61 per cent of UK adults used their mobile phones for internet access. Tablet ownership is 54% of UK households.

No Established Health Effects

Mobile phones operate by using radio waves, similar to those that have been widely used for decades, for example in radio, TV and radar signals. A large number of studies over the last two decades have found no clear evidence of adverse health effects from the use of mobile phones or from phone masts.