News for Wales

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Phone mast meeting
Wales Created: 15 Nov 2009
PARENTS should find out on Monday if a phone mast will be built outside their children’s school.

Mobile phone company 02 believes it has permission for the mast outside Christ the King Roman Catholic Primary School in Llanishen, Cardiff, despite an application being rejected last July. The company says Cardiff council failed to inform them, giving them automatic permission.

02 bosses will meet parents and council staff on Monday.
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Source: Wales Online, Jonathan Evans, 14 Nov 2009

Mums mobilise to stop work on phone mast
Wales Created: 8 Nov 2009
ANGRY mums spent yesterday morning protecting their children’s school from a 41ft phone mast.

Workmen from mobile phone company O2 turned up at Christ the King Roman Catholic Primary School in Llanishen, Cardiff, to start digging, despite plans to build the mast being rejected last July.

O2 claims that a council error means it can now erect the mast, but Cardiff council deny this.

The parents, along with staff at the school, said they knew nothing about the building plans until they dropped their children off yesterday.

And the furious mums stayed at the school until 1pm to make sure that work could not go ahead. Work was eventually suspended for the day, but officials from O2 will now meet with planning officers and local MP Julie Morgan on Monday to discuss the site.

Parents have long protested against the mast, arguing that rays transmitted could damage pupils’ health.

Veronica Camilleri, 47, has a seven-year-old son, Ted, at the school.

Mrs Camilleri, who is also on the board of governors, said: “No-one has been told anything about this. Our main concern is the health and safety of the children.”

Deputy head at the school Patrick Affley added: “The school wasn’t informed by O2 about this taking place.

“As far as we are aware, the planning permission was rejected last year and that was the end of it.”

Secretary of the school’s Parents and Friends Association Josephine Prendergast, 41, who has a five-year-old son, James, at the school, said: “We’ve been told this is the ideal place for the mast.

“But there must be somewhere else away from the school where it can be placed. It’s completely unacceptable.”

The plans for the mast, just metres from the school which has 205 pupils aged four to 11, were originally put forward last year.

They were turned down by Cardiff council because the mast did not fit in with the surrounding area.

A 500-name petition was also put forward opposing the plans.

But Angela Johnson, community relations manager for O2, said: “We have got consent to build because of an error by the council.

“It didn’t follow the correct process.

“It has to write to us and acknowledge receipt of the application being rejected within 56 days.

“It didn’t do that and we therefore have permission by default.”

Cardiff council denies this and a spokesperson said: “The refusal decision was made within the specified 56-day period and O2 was informed of this.

“However, O2 claim that it has the right to proceed to install the mast as the planning authority had not confirmed that such approval was necessary.

“Cardiff council is very concerned about this matter and is attempting to arrange an urgent meeting with O2.”
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Source: Wales Online, 07 Nov 2009

Mast review findings welcomed
Wales Created: 13 Aug 2009
Adam Price MP and Rhodri Glyn Thomas AM have welcomed recommendations that mobile phone masts should be subject to the full planning process. Currently, new mobile phone masts are only subject to the ‘prior approval’ procedure. A report commissioned by the Welsh government has now recommended that all masts should be subject to full planning permission.

The Carmarthenshire AM and MP have argued that tougher regulations are necessary to protect the health and well being of Welsh communities but need not hamper Wales’s technological advancement.

Plaid AM Rhodri Glyn Thomas said: "Plaid has long been concerned about the impact that insensitively sited masts can have on the health of Welsh communities.

"The current procedure is clearly inadequate and can mean that masts are insensitively sited, for example near schools, hospitals or homes for the elderly. A change to the regular planning procedure should ensure that masts are properly sited in order to protect the health and well being of the local community. Adam Price MP added: "There is no reason why these proposals should prevent the further development of telecommunications masts, nor should they restrict the ability of people to use a mobile phone. This should be seen as a positive step that addresses the important concerns of Welsh communities and allows them to have their say in the planning decisions that affect them."
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Source: Tivyside Advertiser, 13 Aug 2009

Tougher phone mast rules proposed
Wales Created: 7 Aug 2009
Campaigners have welcomed the move, but mobile phone operators claim that it could damage Wales' digital future.

At present, new masts under 15m (49ft)tall are automatically erected unless councils object to them within 56 days.

But a report by academics commissioned by the assembly government has recommended that all masts should be subject to full planning permission.

The siting of mobile phone masts has been a controversial issue in some areas over the past few years, with worries particularly over health and the impact on house prices and the local environment.

Many groups have protested against plans, and the report acknowledges the current planning system of what is known as "prior approval" is confusing for councils, companies and residents.

The report, commissioned by Sustainability Minister Jane Davidson, who has overall responsibility for the planning system in Wales, recommends simplifying the process.

However, mobile phone companies are concerned that if the new proposals are approved, it could be more difficult and costly for them to get permission to put up masts in Wales, putting it at a competitive disadvantage with other parts of the UK.

Mike Dolan, the executive director of the Mobile Operators Association, said this could damage the roll-out of 3G fast mobile internet, and impair Wales' digital future.

"It's important that there be continued investment in Wales in this infrastructure so that mobile phone customers can have the services that they rightly deserve," he said.

But Kath Sayce, who protested against a mobile phone mast in Maesteg, in Bridgend county, said: "We weren't given enough time to object and we would have preferred a lot longer, a lot more consideration to be given to the communities, whether another location could be looked at".

The campaigners won their fight to stop the mast being erected on top of Maesteg Rugby Club after the club agreed to not proceed after becoming aware of public opposition.

The academics from the University of West of England in Bristol, who worked on the review, acknowledged the public perception of health risks linked to the masts.

But their report said no research so far suggests radiofrequency exposure from mobile phones damages health.

'Costly process'

Under the new proposals, health would remain a material consideration in decisions on whether to give planning permission for phone masts.

But, as now, if emissions from masts are within internationally recognised standards, this cannot be a reason for refusal.

The report does raise some concerns that if many more requests for planning permission for mobile masts are determined by councillors, then they could respond to pressure by refusing masts on the grounds of public concern rather than planning criteria.

The mobile phone companies would then have the option of a judicial review of the decision, which could then overturn the councillors decision, which would be a lengthy and potentially costly process.

A spokesperson for Ms Davidson said she would study the report and make a statement on the matter in the autumn.
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Source: BBC News, 07 Aug 2009

Phone mast plan knocked back for third time
Wales Created: 16 Jul 2009
A MOBILE phone company's plan to position a mast near Swansea homes has been dashed for the third time.

In February, Swansea councillors rejected a proposal from Vodafone to install a 12m monopole with three antennas on land adjacent to the Lidl store in Trallwn Road, Llansamlet. Council planners had rejected similar proposals in 2003.

Vodafone appealed to the Assembly, which has now backed the council decision.

Ward councillor June Evans said this was the third occasion she had written to Assembly inspectors on the same issue.

She said: "I am pleased we have won again. I am hoping it will be the last time. It is mainly a residential area. People don't like them and don't want them near their homes. There's a play area behind Lidl — a park and field where they play football. I do hope they get the message now."
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Source: South Wales Evening Post, 15 Jul 2009

Vodaphone puts phone mast plans on hold in Rhyl
Wales Created: 3 Jun 2009
CONTROVERSIAL plans to site a mobile phone radio base station near a residential area of Rhyl have been put on hold.

Vodafone recently announced plans to site the base station at the junction of Bryn Cwnin Road and Gwenarth Drive.

Many residents in the area had raised objections to the proposal and Vale of Clwyd MP Chris Ruane took these up with Mono Consultants, which are acting on behalf of Vodafone and with Denbighshire County Council.

Mr Ruane has now received a response from Vodafone stating that the proposal for the Bryn Cwnin site has now been placed on hold.

In the letter, from Nicola Perkin Vodafone’s Public Affairs Manager, it is revealed that Vodafone and O2 have announced an agreement to share mobile network assets across various countries including the UK.

The two companies are now examining how their shared resources can be used most effectively to benefit customers and shareholders.

“We do not yet have any clarity on whether a planning application will be submitted for this proposed site in the future, but as we are aware of local concerns, if it should go ahead in this or another nearby location, we will work with the local community to try to address their concerns,” she added.

Mr Ruane has also received confirmation from the council that the proposal is still in a pre-application consultation stage.

“I would urge anyone who hasn’t already done so to get their views in to me as soon as possible and I will forward these on to Vodafone and Denbighshire County Council,” he said.

“However, I am pleased that Vodafone has stated that it will work with residents in the Bryn Cwnin area if it decides to go ahead with the proposal to try and address their concerns.

“Also, Vodafone has offered to meet me in the House of Commons to discuss the matter further.”

If Vodafone decides to go ahead with the proposal the next potential step is for it to formally apply to Denbighshire County Council, as local planning authority (LPA) for its determination as to whether prior approval will be required to the siting and appearance of the proposed development.

DCC will then have 56 days, beginning with the date on which it receives the application, in which to make and notify its determination on whether prior approval is required and to notify the applicant of its decision to give or refuse such approval.
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Source: Denbighshire Visitor, Andrew Davies, 03 jun 2009

We want action on phone mast plan - group
Wales Created: 13 Apr 2009
AN ACTION group set up to stop a mobile phone mast being built 70 metres from a Six Bells primary school is calling for a final decision to be made on the issue.

Blaenau Gwent council’s planning officers were due to meet representatives from Vodafone in January to ask them to consider citing the mast further away from Bryngwyn Primary School.

However, the meeting was cancelled due to the illness of the council’s head of planning in the public protection sector, Steve Smith.

The meeting has yet to be re-arranged and members of the Six Bells Against the Mast action group are eager for the matter to be resolved.

The chairman of the action group, Nigel Bard, said: “This needs to be sorted out sooner rather than later and we have been waiting too long now.

“When the meeting does take place we will come out in force as an action group, such is the opposition against the mast.

“Until the meeting happens we are still in the dark about a final decision on the plans.”

Blaenau Gwent council granted planning permission for the ten-metre high mast in September last year.

The council’s planning committee said it was unable to refuse planning permission on the grounds of health concerns, due to government planning guidance.

However, due to the number of objections received, the council began discussions with Vodafone to consider citing the mast further away from the school.

Members of Six Bells Against the Mast action group say they are worried about the safety of their children and are concerned about the effect the mast could have on their children’s health.

Six Bells councillor and vice-chairman of the planning committee, Wilfred Watkins, said a request has been made to Vodafone to consider an alternative site for the mast and council officers were awaiting a reply: "We can't have a meeting without a result, when we've got an answer back, then we'll have a meeting."
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Source: South Wales Argus, 13 Apr 2009

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

Council delays cause second phone mast blunder
Wales Created: 27 Mar 2009
DELAYS and mistakes by Swansea Council have led to a second mobile phone mast being allowed to stay in place despite it not having planning permission, an inspector has claimed.

The Assembly-appointed inspector has ruled that the giant tower in Gorseinon can stay, and pointed to "a number of administrative and other errors" in the way the council dealt with the case.

It follows a similar debacle in Townhill when a mast was allowed to remain because the council had missed a deadline to write to the phone company involved by 24 hours.

Hazel Stock, whose Lime Street house is less than 50ft from the Gorseinon mast, said: "The council can just walk away from it, but we've got to live with the consequences of what they've done."

A spokesman for Swansea Council said: "The council is surprised and disappointed by the appeal decision and in particular by the inspector's reasoning as the councils' decision to refuse prior approval was given well within the statutory time period.

"We are seeking legal advice as to whether it should be challenged."
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Source: South Wales Evening Post, 25 Mar 2009

Brain tumour statistics 'missing'
Wales Created: 22 Mar 2009
Over 2,300 people with brain tumours are missing from official statistics in Wales every years, a charity has said.

Brain Tumour UK says thousands of patients are getting inadequate care as a result because there is no budget or provision to meet their needs.

It wants the assembly government and NHS Wales to ensure all brain tumours are recorded by the end of 2009.

The assembly government said national cancer standards for brain tumours would be developed.

Brain tumours are regarded as rare because of under-reporting, which the charity says affects funding levels for research into the condition.

The charity's report "Register my tumour, recognise me" estimates 2,833 people in Wales are affected by primary or secondary brain tumours every year, but that only around 470 are included in statistics.

Of these patients, 944 will have primary brain tumours and a further 1,889 have secondary ones arising from cancer which has spread from another site in the body.

A study of post mortem examination reports have shown half of all primary tumours are missing from official statistics, while secondary tumours are rarely recorded, even when the brain tumour may in the end be the actual cause of death.

"Brain tumours, by virtue of their dangerous location, can impact on every characteristic that defines us as human beings," said the charity's chief executive, Jenny Baker OBE.

"It is scandalous that thousands of people, many of them suffering very substantial cognitive and physical impairments as a result of their tumour, are largely overlooked because health services have not recognised their existence and complex needs."

Paul Leach and Richard Hatfield, consultant neurosurgeons at the University Hospital of Wales, said they welcomed and supported the charity's claim.

"Currently, neurosurgical services are being reconfigured in Wales and without robust data on all brain tumour patients it will be impossible to design and develop an adequate neuro-oncology service for the people of Wales."

The charity said secondary cancer was becoming more common as advances were made in treading other primary cancers.

Mrs Baker added: "In future, the brain is likely to be the primary battle ground against cancer because other cancers can hide from chemotherapy behind the blood-brain barrier.

"It is essential that our health services monitor this growing danger and prepare to fight it."
Click here to view the source article.
Source: BBC News, 18 Mar 2009

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