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Mobile operators welcome new code of best practice on network development

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Mike Dolan, Director of the Operators' Mobile Telecoms Advisory Group said "More than 46 million people use mobile phones in the UK, so an extensive infrastructure is needed to meet customer demand. This needs to be developed to take the views of local communities into account and to minimise any impact on the environment."

Mobile phone operators have already taken steps in this direction, following the introduction of the Ten Commitments in August 2001, through which operators work with local authorities and communities, when planning locations for base stations.

Mr Dolan said: "This new code builds on the work the operators and the Government have been doing over the last couple of years. It brings the operators, national government and local government closer together on this important issue, and provides practical advice to ensure local communities are properly advised and consulted about applications for base stations."

A significant part of the Code concentrates on good siting and design for base stations. This advice will help to direct development to the most appropriate locations and help minimise the environmental impact and visual intrusion.

Notes to Editors

1. Mobile Telecoms Advisory Group represents the five mobile phone operators operating within the UK (3, O2, Orange, T-Mobile and Vodafone)

2. In the Ten commitments, published in September 2001 the mobile phone operators have pledged to:

  • 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. The Code of Best Practice on Mobile Phones Network Development is available on the ODPM website at www.odpm.gov.uk

For more information, please contact:
Christine Jude (020 7331 2029, 020 7331 2029, 07714 241924, 07714 241924) and Nicole Hughes (0207 331 2052, 0207 331 2052, 07736 110787, 07736 110787)

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.