Mast was put up illegally

Warwickshire Local Paper

Report by Duncan Smith

   A Mobile phone mast illegally erected in Warwick as part of a new police communications network has been ordered to be removed by a judge at the High Court in London.

   The judge ordered that the mast-erected by telecommunications company 02 Airwave at Jephsons Farm, Warwick-be removed within a five week period.

   The 16.5 metre mast was erected without the benefit of planning permission on 18th November last year. Subsequently, an application for its temporary erection for a 12 month period was refused by Warwick Distract Council.

   An enforcement notice was issued requiring the removal of the mast and equipment cabin by 1st April. This failed to take place because both the refusal of planning permission and the issue of the enforcement notice were the subject of an appeal to the Planning Inspectorate.

   The mast was erected as part of a national project being carried out by 02 Air-wave on behalf of the Home Office to link all 51 Police Forces with a common communications system.

   A spokesman for 02 Air-wave told the Midweek,  planning regulations were overlooked because the company has been working against a tight schedule to complete the works.

   He said: "On occasions it has been necessary to put up masts without going through the normal planning route."

   He argued that emergency planning law allowed the company to erect the mast for an initial four months. However, planning officials at the council have rebuffed this clatm, saying that such laws do not apply to green field sites.

   The judge agreed with the council that the conduct of Airwave had shown a wilful disregard for the planning system and had been driven by commercial interest. However, he accepted that the mast was needed as part of Warwickshire Police's new telecommunications system. For that reason he gave Airwave a five week period-ending on 7th May-to seek a relocation of the telecommunications equipment so as to minimise any service disruption.

   John Edwards. group leader for development control at the district council, said: "This is an important judgement for all local authorities seeking to enforce against developers who deliberately choose to ignore the planning system.

"Airwave have given us a variety of alternative locations to site the mast, which we are considering at the moment."