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Democracy threat as Government overturns local council decisions on phone masts
Scotland Created: 25 Nov 2012
IT has been revealed that the Scottish Government are three times more likely to overturn a decision made by councils than to uphold it.

MORE than three-quarters of mobile phone mast plans rejected by Scots councils are later approved by the Government.

Ministers are over-ruling local authorities in three out of four of the applications for the controversial masts.

Figures reveal the Scottish Government are three times more likely to overturn a decision made by councils than back it.

Critics have voiced fears for local democracy after 27 out of 35 appeals lodged by mobile phone companies to the Scottish Government since the beginning of 2011 were given the green light.

In East Renfrewshire alone, seven out of eight rejections were overturned.

Eastwood MSP Ken Macintosh said: “Councils work hard to strike a balance between our need for a mobile phone network and the wishes of local residents to keep masts awayfrom their homes.

“These are difficult decisions and the whole process is being entirely undermined by the Scottish Government.

“Ministers are siding with the phone companies against local communities and overruling democratically elected councils in nearly every case.
Scottish Government accused of centralising power and taking planning decisions out of council hands

“In the past few months, the Scottish Government have overturned seven out of eight decisions in East Renfrewshire and imposed phone masts up against people’s houses.

“That is not a fair nor transparent way to build the phone network.”

Retired neurophysiologist Keith Baxendale, who lives in Rutherglen, also criticised the Government’s actions.

He has already called for a ban on mobile phone masts near schools and nurseries, in line with New Zealand,
Australia, Sweden and Italy.

Dr Baxendale, who believes radio frequency radiation has a damaging effect on the nervous system, said: “The Scottish Government don’t seem to recognise there could be longer-term consequences of these masts, particularly for small children.

“It seems pretty anti- democratic to overturn so many decisions by councils.”

The Scottish Government yesterday defended their decision-making.

A spokeswoman said: “We want to see the right developments in the right places.

“The ability of applicants to challenge decisions is an important part of the planning process enshrined in law.”

Last month, the UK’s first major fourth generation, 4G, mobile service went live in 11 cities in Britain, including Glasgow and Edinburgh.

The SNP government were also criticised over planning decisions earlier this month when figures showed they have approved 83 per cent of applications for “major” windfarms – with 25 turbines or more.

The rush by landowners and developers for windfarms approval has seen three applications a day.

Labour East Renfrewshire MP Jim Murphy said: “The Scotland-wide figures do not surprise me as it seems the SNP government is determined to ignore the wishes of local people.”
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Source: Daily Record, Mark Aitken, 25 Nov 2012

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