Mobile phone campaigners welcome court ruling

Could a Court of Appeal ruling mean that local councils can take health worries into account when ruling on a planning application for a new mobile mast?

Campaigners fighting against the erection of mobile phone masts in north London are celebrating a high court ruling that they hope could mean that applications for new masts can be rejected because of health concerns.

According to reports, the Court of Appeal ruled last week that planning applications for mobile base stations could be refused for health reasons alone -- even though there is a lack of scientific evidence that mobile masts cause negative health effects.

The ruling has been welcomed by a group of residents in South Woodford, in north London, who are opposing applications from O2 and Hutchison 3G for the construction of a mobile mast in their area.

One South Woodford resident told a local newspaper that they hoped the ruling would mean that the shared mast would not be allowed, saying "I hope this ruling will give residents like us the power to reject these masts, which have not been ruled safe."

Under current planning rules, local councils are not allowed to take perceived health dangers into account when deciding whether an application for permission to build a new mobile mast should be allowed. This Court of Appeal ruling, though, could change this -- and could put the onus onto mobile phone operators to prove that masts are safe.

There are thought to be hundreds of local pressure groups fighting against the construction of new mobile phone base stations, even though no firm evidence currently exists that the masts are dangerous. Some in the mobile industry are concerned that, if such campaigners are successful, they could threaten the rollout of 3G networks.

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