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The Daily Telegraph - Property - - Property Clinic -

Con­tin­u­ing the se­ries in which our Clinic ex­perts pro­vide a guide to those thorny is­sues that can leave the un­wary out of pocket. This week, John Win­ter on op­pos­ing phone masts or py­lons: We live in a vil­lage on a hill and risk hav­ing our neigh­bour­hood dis­fig­ured by phone masts and pro­pos­als for a new power line. How can we stop them? In an ideal world elec­tric­ity power lines would be un­der­ground, but the cost is very high. The elec­tric­ity sup­plier has con­sid­er­able power over the sit­ing of py­lons, al­though sig­nif­i­cant power lines are likely to have a lengthy con­sul­ta­tion pe­riod be­fore con­struc­tion. Mo­bile phone masts are in­stalled by var­i­ous com­pa­nies and plan­ners can in­flu­ence de­ci­sions to a lim­ited ex­tent. What ar­gu­ments should we use in our cam­paign? There are two pos­si­ble grounds for ob­ject­ing to a pro­posal for new py­lons or a phone mast. One is on health grounds, the other on vis­ual grounds. Let us look at ob­jec­tions on health grounds first. Many peo­ple be­lieve that em­a­na­tions from mo­bile phone masts and over­head elec­tric­ity ca­bles can dam­age health. How­ever, there is a lack of firm ev­i­dence as to the harm­ful ef­fects, so health ar­gu­ments are un­likely to carry much weight. OK, what about ap­pear­ance? The ar­gu­ments against ap­pear­ance are stronger. Few would wel­come a row of py­lons across a beau­ti­ful land­scape. Mo­bile phone masts are tend­ing to dis­ap­pear as trans­mit­ters are now more of­ten placed on con­ve­nient high build­ings. How­ever, the pow­ers granted to the elec­tric­ity sup­plier and the mo­bile phone com­pa­nies are con­sid­er­able and in­di­vid­u­als are com­par­a­tively weak should they op­pose a pro­posed struc­ture. Not very hope­ful. What if we all band to­gether? The lo­cal author­ity can be ex­pected to know of pro­pos­als in the pipe­line and it is pos­si­ble for a group of in­di­vid­u­als to com­bine to form such an op­po­si­tion group to any pro­posal. It is al­ways help­ful if such a group has an al­ter­na­tive pro­posal. In most cases, sim­ply to ar­gue “put it un­der­ground” will not get you very far. Ar­gu­ments should be ad­dressed to the Sec­re­tary of State, to the om­buds­man and to the rel­e­vant elec­tric­ity sup­plier or mo­bile phone op­er­a­tor.

John Win­ter runs his own ar­chi­tec­tural prac­tice..

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