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Government urged to review phone mast planning rules
Scotland Created: 17 Sep 2013
CALLS have been made for phone mast planning rules to be reviewed after a report found more than one-quarter of Scotland has no mobile coverage.

The study published yesterday, backed by the Scottish Government, warned ministers needed to ensure planning regulations were proportionate and did not unduly inhibit the roll-out of communications networks.

The recommendation was welcomed by phone operators, who complained that Scotland's planning regime was far more restrictive than England's.

The call followed extensive research showing hundreds of "not spots," or areas without mobile phone coverage.

It found 27.5% of Scotland was without basic 2G coverage, which allows calls to be made. Even bigger swathes of the country have no 3G signal, which allow smartphones to access the internet and send emails.

Among other ­recommendations, the report urges the Scottish Government to work with telecom regulator Ofcom and phone firms to set up roaming agreements across Scotland. The facility would automatically switch a phone user's network if the only coverage available was from a rival provider. It also calls for a fuller audit of so-called not spots.

The research, commissioned by the Government, was based on 17 million samples taken by ScotRail, the Scottish Ambulance Service and other surveys. Volunteers made 50,000 checks across the country to verify the data.

It revealed 2552 separate not spots, including small inner city pockets, as well as large remote rural areas.

Among the worst-served areas was Argyll & Bute, where 38.9% of the area had no 2G signal and 71.4% was without 3G coverage. Across the Highland council area 37.7% had no 2G and 69.9% no 3G signal. In Stirling, which includes rural and urban areas, 29.2% had no 2G and 47% no 3G.

Glasgow, Dundee and ­Edinburgh enjoyed the best coverage, according to the report.

However the report identified widespread not spot pockets in Scotland's two biggest cities, with one of the largest around Gartnavel Hospital in Glasgow. It said: "Contrary to traditional thinking, not spots are found frequently in the urban environment."

The report also highlighted connection difficulties for road and rail users.

Mobile coverage along country roads, even many A-roads, was a significant problem, it said.

It singled out the B709 in the Borders, saying there was no 2G or 3G signal for 90% of its 60 miles.

It said Scotland's main rail routes, such as the Glasgow-Edinburgh link, had many sections of patchy coverage "with the high probability a call will cut out more than once during the journey".

It concluded: ­"Significant improvements will be required before mobile communications in Scotland can fully meet customers' aspirations, particularly with the massive growth in use of smartphones and tablet devices."

The Government produced a report last year, Scotland's Digital Future, which said improving mobile coverage was a key ambition.

The Mobile Operators ­Association, which represents the four UK network providers, said 99.3% of the population could get a 2G signal in Scotland, compared with 99.8% in England.

But John Cooke, the MOA's executive director, welcomed the recommendation. He added: "That's important because the Scottish telecoms planning regime is far more restrictive than the corresponding system in England; that's a disincentive to investment in telecoms infrastructure."

A Scottish Government ­spokesman said: "We are working closely with the industry to improve mobile coverage across Scotland, and to address the issues identified in this report to ensure that everyone in the country benefits from world class connectivity."
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Source: Herald Scotland, Magnus Gardham, 17 Sep 2013

Farmers warned over leasing land for mobile phone masts
Scotland Created: 24 Jul 2013
A PROLIFERATION of changes within the telecoms industry over recent years have left farmers and landowners, who have leased their land to the various operating companies, confused and in a vulnerable position, according to land agent Savills.

Mergers and consolidations by operators with mobile phone masts have resulted in many players attempting to rationalise their sites and terminate leases prematurely, without due consideration to the agreed terms.

According to Kenneth Munn of Savills, this could result in operators attempting to terminate over 20,000 sites across the UK.

"The new entity Everything Everywhere for example (a merger between Orange and T Mobile) has already begun consolidating sites and are sending letters to landowners advising of their intention to terminate leases, and asking for landowners' signatures. These letters are often written in a manner which overrides the original lease, allowing the tenant to short-cut their way out of obligations," warned Mr Munn. "There is deep confusion among many landowners as to what their rights are, who among the telecoms players is now the legal tenant, who is the operator and on what network, and what rents and payments are due to the landlord."

According to Mr Munn, the operators' ability to terminate the lease may not be as straightforward as it appears.

He went on: "We have found that many standard leases appear to prevent the operators from terminating leases early.

"Where this is not the case, the landlord is still in a strong position. He can certainly demand rent up front for the unexpired term. In addition, the majority of leases would also require the tenant to reinstate the site.

"This leaves the landlord in a position to negotiate a one-off payment to terminate the lease and potentially, where appropriate, not reinstate. On some of the sites, we are discussing compensation sums in excess of £50,000.

"The value to the tenant of being able to avoid this 'shortcut' out of a telecoms mast lease can be very significant. Landlords should take advice to ensure they are properly compensated for future losses, particularly in respect of rent foregone, before signing any letter."

Market round-up

Lawrie and Symington sold 13 prime heifers in Lanark on Monday to a top of 274p per kg and an average of 250.4p (+6.4p on the week), while two prime beef-bred bullocks levelled at 222p. Eleven prime, dairy-bred bullocks sold to 187.5p and averaged 185.2p (+5.3p).

In the rough ring, 36 beef cows averaged 144p and 35 dairy cows levelled at 119p. Ten OTM cattle averaged 165p.

The firm also sold 639 prime lambs to a top of £99.50 per head and 228p per kg to average 182.2p (-40p). The 420 cast sheep forward saw ewes sell to £117.50 for Texels and £51.50 for Blackfaces to average £57.07 overall (-£2.60).

"The new entity Everything Everywhere for example (a merger between Orange and T Mobile) has already begun consolidating sites and are sending letters to landowners advising of their intention to terminate leases, and asking for landowners' signatures. These letters are often written in a manner which overrides the original lease, allowing the tenant to short-cut their way out of obligations," warned Mr Munn. "There is deep confusion among many landowners as to what their rights are, who among the telecoms players is now the legal tenant, who is the operator and on what network, and what rents and payments are due to the landlord."

According to Mr Munn, the operators' ability to terminate the lease may not be as straightforward as it appears.

He went on: "We have found that many standard leases appear to prevent the operators from terminating leases early.

"Where this is not the case, the landlord is still in a strong position. He can certainly demand rent up front for the unexpired term. In addition, the majority of leases would also require the tenant to reinstate the site.

"This leaves the landlord in a position to negotiate a one-off payment to terminate the lease and potentially, where appropriate, not reinstate. On some of the sites, we are discussing compensation sums in excess of £50,000.

"The value to the tenant of being able to avoid this 'shortcut' out of a telecoms mast lease can be very significant. Landlords should take advice to ensure they are properly compensated for future losses, particularly in respect of rent foregone, before signing any letter."

Market round-up

Lawrie and Symington sold 13 prime heifers in Lanark on Monday to a top of 274p per kg and an average of 250.4p (+6.4p on the week), while two prime beef-bred bullocks levelled at 222p. Eleven prime, dairy-bred bullocks sold to 187.5p and averaged 185.2p (+5.3p).

In the rough ring, 36 beef cows averaged 144p and 35 dairy cows levelled at 119p. Ten OTM cattle averaged 165p.

The firm also sold 639 prime lambs to a top of £99.50 per head and 228p per kg to average 182.2p (-40p). The 420 cast sheep forward saw ewes sell to £117.50 for Texels and £51.50 for Blackfaces to average £57.07 overall (-£2.60).
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Source: Herald Scotland, Rog Wood, 24 Jul 2013

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

Phone mast petition by Councillor on Health grounds gains weight in Scottish Parliament
Scotland Created: 7 Jun 2012
A PETITION lodged by a Rutherglen councillor and two former councillors on the health issues of mobile phone masts has gained weight with the Scottish Parliament’s Petitions Committee.

The committee has expressed concern about the lack of an up-to-date database of the location of mobile phone masts across the country.

The committee were considering the local petition calling for review of the way planning applications for mobile phone masts are handled.

The petition is sponsored by former Liberal Democrat councillors Eileen Baxendale and David Baillie, current Rutherglen South councillor Robert Brown and retired neurophysiologist Dr. Keith Baxendale, and was examined further by the committee last Tuesday.

The petition was lodged following concerns about the limited powers of the local planning committees over the siting of phone masts in a number of contentious applications in Rutherglen and Cambuslang – especially with regards to health issues.

It follows after many Rutherglen and Cambuslang residents expressed concerns about the number of phone mast applications for the area. However, despite considerable research, no clear evidence has emerged that cellular phone masts pose a risk to human health.

The latest local mast application is in Cambuslang at Calderwood Road, near a baby creche.

The Committee had received the views of the Mobile Operators’ Association and the Scottish Government on the matter together with further comments by Robert Brown.

The Petitions Committee agreed to raise the issue of the database deficiencies and the state of the current research with the Scottish Government.

Dr Keith Baxendale said: “I'm delighted that the Petitions Committee have taken our concerns on board.”

Eileen Baxendale said: “When we attended the Petitions Committee we were impressed by the interest shown by the MSPs. This is an issue that concerns many people in Scotland. If there a risk to our children's health, it must be investigated.”

Councillor Robert Brown said: “The trouble is no-one really knows yet if there is a risk to health but we do know that scientific advice warns against long intensive use of mobile phones, especially by children.

“All this calls for a precautionary approach, particularly when phone masts are suggested to be sited near schools.

“A number of other countries - New Zealand, Australia, Sweden, Italy and parts of the United State – have banned phone masts near schools. Presumably they thought it was the right thing to do.

“I am glad we are pursuing this matter following the experiences of local objectors in Rutherglen and Cambuslang.”
Click here to view the source article.
Source: Rutherglen Reformer, Will Henshaw, 06 Jun 2012

Scots Tories' concern over new mobile phone masts
Scotland Created: 22 Apr 2012
The Scottish government has been accused by Scottish Conservatives of showing a "blatant disregard" for local decision-making.

Research carried out by the Tories indicates that council decisions on mobile phone masts are twice as likely to be overturned on appeal as upheld.

It looked at 25 appeals made by mobile operators since the start of 2011.

Of these, 17 resulted in them being allowed to build new masts against the wishes of a local authority.

Conservative MSP Alex Johnstone said: "An explanation is needed on why such a high proportion of these contentious mobile phone mast applications are overturned.

"Although it is important to improve mobile phone coverage, particularly in rural areas, the Scottish Government has to acknowledge how sensitive some of these applications are, particularly when they are proposed in the heart of communities near schools and housing.

"These figures indicate blatant disregard for local decision making, and show the SNP will happily overrule the people who know best about their areas to suit their own policies.

"We have seen them do it in relation to wind energy, and now it appears it is even more of an issue with mobile phone masts."

The handling of appeals has been defended by the Scottish government.

A spokesman said: "Planning appeals are decided on a case-by-case basis, taking into account all available evidence, local circumstances and planning law."
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Source: BBC, 22 Apr 2012

Councillors reject advice by turning down plan for mobile phone masts
Scotland Created: 21 Feb 2012
Plans for two mobile phone masts at a city bowling club have been thrown out against a backdrop of strong public opposition.

Elected members sitting on Dundee City Council's development management committee overwhelmingly rejected the application to put up 13.7-metre replica flagpole telecommunications masts at the south-west and south-east corners of Dudhope Bowling Club in Adelaide Place for Vodafone and Telefonica (O2).

The application, which is the third of its kind for the site, attracted a number of local objections. People protested against the plan on the grounds that it would feature too dominantly in the area. It was also claimed the applicants had not properly considered other sites.

Among the many deputations heard by councillors was one from Graham Anderson, who said the masts would tower over local streets and look unconvincing as flag poles.

''That doesn't strike me as being a sensitive design for the area,'' he said. ''They will be taller that than all the neighbouring houses and trees.

''This area is normally very peaceful, but that will be replaced with animosity and distress if this plan is allowed to go ahead.''

This view was echoed by Stewart Carrie of St David's High Kirk, who voiced concern at the possible health implications.

He said: ''The site choice has not been as thorough as it should be. This is the technically the most suited site, but that is not what this is about.''

The development management committee had been advised to approve the application by the director of city development Mike Galloway.

He said the application was different to previously failed plans because the masts would be split into two sites and therefore appear more convincing as flag poles.

However, this view was not shared by the elected members, with the Coldside councillor Mohammed Asif moving for refusal.

He said: ''The height is going to be enormous in what is a residential area and a conservation area.''
Click here to view the source article.
Source: Scotland Courier, 21 Feb 2012

Councillors reject mobile mast plan
Scotland Created: 9 Dec 2011
COUNCILLORS have turned down a plan to put up a mobile phone mast close to a Bellshill primary school - a year after rejecting a similar proposal for a site just 10 yards away.

There was fierce opposition last year when O2 and Vodafone proposed building a 40-foot high mast outside shops in Lawmuir Road, close to Lawmuir Primary and Orbiston Nursery.

A petition was raised by residents worried about the possible health risks associated with rays from phone masts.

The proposal was turned down by North Lanarkshire Council’s planning committee, but earlier this year the phone giants returned with a similar application for a nearby location.

However, councillors rejected the fresh application after a site visit.

Afterwards, Bellshill councillor Harry Curran welcomed the decision, saying:

“The companies seemed to think it was more suitable because it would have been easier to push prams along the footpath at the new location.

“However, it was just a rehash of the original application, being on ground only 10 or 12 yards away, so I’m delighted with the decision.”

Full story in this week’s Bellshill Speaker.
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Source: Bellshill Speaker, 09 Dec 2011

Phone mast rent squeeze
Scotland Created: 17 Nov 2011
SCOTTISH LANDOWNERS leasing out sites for mobile phone masts face a struggle to maintain the rents they currently charge, according to land agents, Bell Ingram.

New alliances between phone companies, plus the ongoing economic downturn, was leading to downward pressure on phone mast rents across Scotland, said the firm’s Julian Clarke.

Mr Clarke reported numerous cases where major phone operators have claimed that, because they were now sharing phone mast sites with rival companies, their existing sites would be made redundant – and masts would be removed altogether unless rents were dropped.

“Sometimes they are offering to pay between 20 to 30% less than their previously agreed levels and say they’ll just remove the masts altogether if landowners don’t agree to the new rents,” said Mr Clarke.

Related news:
Oct 2009, Ireland: Why the farmers and phone companies may cease to be friends
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Source: The Scottish Farmer, Gordon Davidson, 17 Nov 2011

Neighbours force phone firm to call off mast job
Scotland Created: 6 Jul 2011
MORNINGSIDE residents have brought work on a mobile phone mast to a halt by blocking construction traffic from driving over their land.

Greenbank Village householders awoke to find massive steel tracks being laid over communal garden land running into a nearby field, where a "temporary" 50ft mast is set to be erected.

When contractors yesterday attemped to take materials over the 300ft steel path, they were thwarted by a group who are angry that they had not been informed about either the installation of the mast or the use of their land.

The residents initially blocked the path of the trucks with furniture before contractors agreed to halt work.

The land off Rattray Grove, on which the mast is being sited, is owned by a third party. However, the route contractors need to use to gain access to it belongs to local residents.

James Duncan, 72, a retired off-shore oil engineer, said: "In my view this is a significant lack of consideration for the people who live here. This is land owned by the residents and we should have been told what is happening here, and would have had to give their permission to lay all these steel tracks down on our flowerbeds."

Vivianne McCann, 71, a retired dental receptionist, added: "The metal planks that have been laid everywhere are ruining the grass and flowers on our land.

"We were guaranteed that this land wouldn't see any development when we bought our houses. This looks like development to me."

Greenbank Village has been built on the site of the former City Hospital, and its red brick pavillions are now part of the housing development. The mast planned by Orange, which will have a 20-metre cage around it, is believed to be on the site of a former cricket ground.

Jane Ulke, 52, a marketing and public affairs consultant, said: "There is a lot of history that goes with this area, the people who attended the hospital, were treated here, played cricket here.

There should have been more consideration before someone decided to build a mobile phone mast here.

"We're not just being nimbys, this track is crushing the grass and flowers on our property, without permission, and then further afield, on the land we don't own, it's ruining this popular green where people walk their dogs and children play."

Lee Anstey of contractors Clarke Communications, which has been brought in to install the mast for Orange and was on the site yesterday, said: "From what we've been told, Orange have planning permission to establish the mast, but they may have forgotten to ask permission from the local residents to get to the site, but that is still being determined.

"We've stopped work for now while they check it out and we do appreciate where the people here are coming from."

An Orange spokeswoman said the firm always ensured that all necessary planning consent was in place.

"The mast was a temporary measure designed to ensure that our customers continued to receive the best network coverage possible, whilst we looked for a more permanent place to position the mast.

"We are aware of the incident that took place today in Rattray Grove and we are conducting our own investigation into this."
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Source: Scotsman, RORY REYNOLDS, 06 Jul 2011

Celebrity backing for battle to block mast plan
Scotland Created: 22 Mar 2011
IT has been the setting for many a middle-class revolt over the years but the latest row engulfing Glasgow’s west end is no laughing matter for two of the country’s leading comedy professionals.

The latest G12 community backlash has been prompted by plans to erect a mobile phone mast on a B-listed church spire, with the campaign spearheaded by Rab C Nesbitt creator Ian Pattison and controversial comic Frankie Boyle.

Mobile phone giant Vodafone wants to erect the 20ft-high mast at St Bride’s Church in Hyndland Road, with the proposal expected to go before the city council’s planning committee if more than three objections are submitted.

Opponents have been mobilising and have been given added impetus with the involvement of two powerhouses of the Scottish cultural scene.

Concerns range from the grey area over the impact on health through to the heritage impact on one of Scotland’s best-known conservation areas.

Ironically, the last series of Rab C Nesbitt featured a prescient storyline in which a phone company entered into a deal with a church to have a mast erected on its spire and the church changing its name to St Vodafone’s.

But St Bride’s, like most other places of Christian worship, is suffering from dwindling congregations and will receive a much-needed cash injection over 10 years from the Vodafone deal.

Ian Pattison said: “The local community is really worried about this. The mobile phone companies say there is no proven health scare but what does that mean?

“Just two years ago it was reported that seven clusters of cancer and other serious illnesses were discovered around mobile phone masts.

“Studies of the sites showed high incidences of cancer, brain haemorrhages and high blood pressure. One of the studies, in Warwickshire, showed a cluster of 31 cancers around a single street. Is this something we wish to see replicated in Glasgow’s west end?

“The church is in agreement with this installation but you have to consider St Bride’s are receiving a substantial payment for this. And of the congregation of around 140-150 in total, only around 40-50 turn up each week. Most do not live in the immediate neighbourhood.”

Campaigners against the mast have raised the proximity of a children’s nursery, a GP’s practice and communal gardens 20 yards from the church, while Vodafone has been accused of arranging public meetings at times of the day when there will be a low turn-out.

Jim Meldrum, who lives in nearby Kingsborough Gardens, said the plans were undermining investment by the community in improving the heritage appeal of the Hyndland area.

He said: “We’ve helped raise £60,000 for replicas of the original lighting in the area and are looking at restoring the railings lost during the Second World War at a cost of £140,000 but this just undermines all we’re doing.”

A Vodafone spokesman said: “The Hyndland area of Glasgow is predominantly residential in nature and we believe that the chosen location at St Bride’s Church is the most preferable option. The proposal is to place a replica flag pole on the roof of the church tower whilst the ancillary equipment will be housed inside the church. Given that the surrounding area is characterised by a number of substantial residential properties it was felt that a replica flag pole would be the most sensitive design option we could use.”

He added that the company took health concerns seriously and that exposure to radio frequency fields was “typically hundreds to thousands of times lower than the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection guidelines”.

Glasgow’s west end remains one of the few inner city areas in the UK outside London with a “campaign culture”, where celebrities have lent their support.

Hollywood star Robert Carlyle and Still Game stars Ford Kiernan and Greg Hemphill rallied against plans for a nightclub in the city’s Botanic Gardens, while Franz Ferdinand and Belle And Sebastian championed the cause of the near-derelict Kelvingrove bandstand.
Click here to view the source article.
Source: Herald Scotland, Brian Beacom and Gerry Braiden, 22 Mar 2011

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