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Planners give mobile operators a good reception

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New research shows that local authority planners are increasingly satisfied with the consultation carried out by mobile network operators for base station sites which are needed to support the public’s ever-increasing mobile phone use. Ipsos MORI research carried out over the past six years shows positive improvement in all areas of consultation and information year on year.

The main findings of the research were:

  • Four in five planners agree that there has been an improvement in the quality of information and level of consultation by operators. One in five ‘strongly agree’, almost three times as many as did so in 2001.
  • Seven in eight planners feel operators co-operate positively with requests for more information about planning applications.
  • More than four fifths agree the operators provide them with enough information about their plans for mobile base stations within their local authority area. This figure has risen significantly over the years: in 2001, just a quarter of planners thought this was the case.
  • Just over four in five agree that the operators make themselves available for discussion with planners before submitting applications, and though fewer (70%) agree the operators also show willingness to consult local people directly, this has increased since 2001 when only 8% said the same. 

Mike Dolan, Executive Director of the Mobile Operators Association said, “This research demonstrates that operators are working successfully to deliver improved information and communication year on year, both with local authorities and local communities. We would encourage planners to take the earliest opportunity of engaging with operators, which is provided by the annual rollout plans sent out to them in October each year.”

Ipsos MORI report: 'Good Reception - continuing to address the needs of planners'

Notes to Editors

1. Ipsos MORI Report: "Good Reception – Continuing to address the needs of planners", published on

2. There are over 65 million mobile phones in use in the UK. There are approximately 47,000 radio base station sites to support that use. Without a network of base stations in the right places mobile phones will not work.

3. 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:

4. 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

5. Ipsos MORI interviews a representative quota sample of 100 senior local authority planners involved in mobile phone base station planning every May. A quota is set to ensure that the sample is representative of the different types of local councils across Great Britain.  The research has been conducted annually since May 2001.

The data referenced here are from the 2006 study. Interviews were conducted between 8 and 16 May 2006.  Interviews were carried out using CATI (Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing).

 For further information on the Ipsos MORI Survey please contact Alnoor Samji ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ) on 020 7347 3000 / 020 7347 3000.

6. For more information please contact Christine Jude, MOA, ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ) on 020 7331 2029  / 020 7331 2029, 07714 241924, 07714 241924

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.