Agenda item

056287 - A - Full Application - Swap Out and Relocation of the Existing 10 m High Monopole for a 12.0 m High Alpha Monopole, Installation of 3 No. Equipment Cabinets and Associated Development at Land Opposite Fair Haven, Ruthin Road, Gwernymynydd


The Committee considered the report of the Chief Officer (Planning and Environment) in respect of this application which had been the subject of a site visit.The usual consultations had been undertaken and the responses received detailed in the report. 


The officer explained that this was a full application for the replacement and relocation of the existing 10m high monopole with a 12.0m high alpha monopole, installation of 3 no. equipment cabinets and associated development.  The proposal was to improve the level of coverage in the vicinity.


Due to the increased height and design of the new mast it would be more prominent than the one it replaced.  However the additional impact was such that the development would not have a significantly greater or detrimental impact upon the street scene and surrounding townscape.  Views of the mast were largely obscured by buildings and mature vegetation.  Dwellings to the north of the site were over 35 metres away and the dwelling to the south was 75 metres away from the site.           


Some concerns had been raised on potential public health concerns which were detailed in the report.


                        Mr K. Hughes spoke against the application on behalf of Gwernymynydd Community Council on the following grounds: siting of the mast; economic benefit should not outweigh health concerns of the community; radiation splay at the same level as the bedrooms of the dwelling opposite; non-ionising radiation; height of the mast; inconclusive evidence on health issues from the effect of mobile phone masts but there was evidence of cancer clusters that had been found around phone masts; and other health problems.


                        Councillor Wisinger moved the officer recommendation for approval which was duly seconded.  He commented on the health concerns that had been raised and said there was no proof of any health hazards.  He also commented on the benefit to the local community that the monopole would bring.


                        Councillors Bithell and Butler also said there was no medical evidence on the health concerns raised, as was outlined in the report.  At the site visit, Councillor Butler noted there were a large number of street lights in close proximity and therefore felt the monopole would not be out of keeping in the area.


                        Councillor Matthews said she had looked at monopoles throughout the country and they were not usually so close to dwellings.  On non-ionising radiation, she said the radiation from a monopole was constant so she felt there would be damage to human cells.  The radiation emitted would be level with the first floor of the property adjacent to the monopole. 


She said the International Commission on Non-Ionising Protection issued guidelines which were adhered to by applications for any monopole but that the most recent published research was from 2008.  It claimed the radiation diminished in strength as the distances increased but she felt this was a flawed view.  There had been no further published papers as there was not enough evidence due to the significant use of mobile phones only being over the last 10 years.  She referred to a recent French telecommunications company who had been required to remove a mast completely and some other countries now exercising caution in the siting of new masts.  The World Health Organisation also recommended caution.  Public Health Wales adhered to the International Commission on Non-Ironising Radiation Protection and said the evidence was inconclusive.  In conclusion, she said the residents of Gwenermynydd recognised the need for a monopole but requested that an alternative site be found.  This was an opportunity for the Planning Committee to express concerns on the siting of monopoles with possible health effects of non-ionising radiation.


                        Councillor Thomas expressed his concerns on public health and felt an alternative site should be found.


                        Councillor Richard Jones felt if the evidence was inconclusive on the health effects then the Committee should proceed with caution.  He also said the perception of local people needed to be considered and felt an alternative site for the monopole should be found.


                        Councillor Roberts said the visual impact would not be effected due to the mature vegetation and buildings in the locality.  He said that if the application was refused and the applicant went to appeal, Inspectors took notice of evidence based information which was not available in this instance.  He referred to a similar application in Devon where an appeal had been lost.


                        Councillor Bateman asked how far back the monopole would need to be before it reached the nearby dwellings.


                        The officer explained that the Flintshire County Council Unitary Development Plan (UDP) cited that any new telecommunication facilities in areas such as the A.O.N.B were subject to a feasibility study which would assess if suitable alternatives were available.  As this was an upgrade to an existing site that policy did not apply and it was considered the most appropriate place for the monopole.


                        On health concerns, Technical Advice Note (TAN) 19 set out what Welsh Government (WG) considered to be material and non-material.  TAN 19 stated that where transmissions from a proposed base station met the ICNRP guidelines it was unnecessary for a Local Planning Authority to consider further the health concerns when considering such an application.  There was no demonstrable harm to public health arising from the development. 


                        The plan showed a 19.6m exclusion zone around the mast.  The closet property was 35m away and therefore well outside of the exclusion zone. 


                        The Development Manager added that when the Guidelines were drawn up, they were done so with a precautionary approach given that mobile phones had not been in use for a relatively high number of years.  Members could therefore be assured that the guidance was already given on a precautionary basis to protect residents, schools etc.


                        In summing up, Councillor Wisinger said the current equipment had been in situ for 10 years and no evidence had been provided on any health problems.  The only difference was a height increase of 2 metres.




            That Planning Permission be granted subject to the conditions outlined in the report of Chief Officer (Planning and Environment).

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