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Anger at North Wales councils over phone mast cash
Wales Created: 13 Apr 2009
MOBILE phone companies are paying tens of thousands of pounds in rent to county councils.

The news met with anger from North Wales residents neighbouring the masts and equipment.

Conwy County Council receives £23,625 per year, including £14,000 for the mast on Venue Cymru, Llandudno, and £3,000 for antennas at Conwy United and Penmaenmawr Phoenix football clubs. There is also a mast on Llandudno’s football ground, gaining the club £5,000 per year.

Denbighshire County Council is paid £15,202 in rent, with cash coming in from Orange and Vodafone for two telecommunications poles on Rhyl Skytower, as well as antennas at Ysgol Glan Clwyd, St Asaph.

Gwynedd County Council is paid £11,905 a year, Anglesey £6,000, Wrexham £6,500 and Flintshire receives nothing in rent.

Although authorities insist there is no scientific evidence of health risks and many masts are very low-powered – comparable to a light bulb – they remain highly controversial.

The news that Ysgol Glan Clwyd has an antenna came as a shock to parents, including one dad whose son attends the school.

He wished to remain anonymous, and said: “I had no idea there was mobile phone equipment at the school, if I had I’d certainly have made a complaint about it. I don’t remember a letter coming home or a consultation about this. Surely the local residents wouldn’t have allowed it had they known.

“And whose bright idea was it to place a mast on a school? It’s disgraceful as there is still a lot of uncertainty around the safety of these antennas.”

Nobody from Ysgol Glan Clwyd was available for comment, but a spokesman for Denbighshire County Council responded: “The first move always comes from the telecommunication companies. The council has to respond in such a way that takes into account the statutory powers of the companies and Welsh Assembly Government guidelines.

“We are mindful of public concerns about these installations.”

He added: “Denbighshire has initiated a standard approval procedure, which relies upon local members and directorate approval with each site being considered on its own merits.

“Planning consent is required and it is considered that safeguards exist in the planning process to ensure that health concerns are properly dealt with. WAG guidance provides in particular that local authorities should not impose their own precautionary policies such as bans on telecommunication equipment.”

Neighbours surrounding the Venue Cymru mast have also voiced concerns.

Beryl Sedgwick lives in Craig-y-Don and said the £14,000 Conwy council receives every year in rent should go towards community projects.

A spokeswoman for the authority said that in a number of cases facilities in the county have benefited from the rent.

She added: “For example, Llandudno FC and Conwy FC. We have never hidden the fact that mobile phone masts are located in these particular places.”

But Beryl said: “How do they sleep at night? This could be having a negative impact on people who spend a lot of time in the area – local residents and the staff – yet they are coining it in.”

Wrexham gathers £6,500 every year from a mast on Redwither Tower, Redwither Industrial Estate, away from residential areas.

On Anglesey, the local authority is paid £6,000 for equipment on the Ucheldre Centre, Holyhead and the windmill at Felin y Graig, Llangefni.
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Source: Daily Post - Llandudno Junction, John Williams, 11 Apr 2009

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