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If you have any information about other Churches' policies on the erection of masts please let me know. This is becoming an increasing problem.
Roman Catholic Church
Unknown policy on siting on the churches. However there are several known cases where Roman Catholic Primary and Secondary schools have masts erected on their property.
Church of England
At present it is up to the local vicar, however the Church policy is to encourage this to happen. The church now encourages and accepts mobile phone antennae on church property and have set up a website for information on how to go about it.
Unfortunately though often the Church involved does use local planning authoritiy rules, if they choose they do not have to go through local planning. So they don't have to consider what you say and as far as the church is concerned when using these powers they don't care what you think either.
however if this is the case still use your local councillors to put pressure on the vicar and the church council. Use the fact aht they are YOUR elected representatives.
The complicated church governance route does, however, provide an extra means of objecting - with the chance that success may be gained even when the Planning Department or the vicar rules against you.
The decision by a parish to agree to a phone company's request to site a mast on their church is taken by the Vicar and the local Parochial Church Council (PCC). They are independent of the Archbishop of Canterbury, but do have central guidelines as suggestions. But ultimately they are the decision making body.
Local churches are not beyond trying to hide their applications. In a recent case in Bradford the decision was kept secret for 15 months and then mentioned in the Church magazine at the same time that planning was applied for.
Sometimes a diocese can have a policy against masts - Sheffield does, Wakefield does not! It varies considerably so check out the local policy!!
Initially lobby your Vicar, but at the same time lobby his Bishop. Get your MP and Councillors (as well as all the parishioners) to do the same.
The church legal route is through the Diocesan Registrar. You obtain formal complaint forms from this officer, but, beware, there are cut off dates to watch! The details of the names and addresses of the Registrar and Chancellor should be publicised on the church noticeboard or in the church. You could ask the Vicar or get them from a copy of the Planning Application, as the church and phone company are joint petitioners for planning permission.
The decision to approve changes to the structure of the church are judged by the Worshipful Chancellor. Formal protestors, who have completed the official objection forms, have the right to attend the hearing. If the Chancellor turns the application down then you have won
The Bradford campaign had started these proceedings and the Chancellor was going to hold the hearing the day after the Planning Committee decision. However, as a result of pressure from the local residents, the Vicar withdrew from the planning application 24 hours before the Planning Committee met, therefore the hearing did not go ahead. The grounds on which the Vicar and his PCC decided to stop the mast were - on the disunity in the Parish - the campaign had established 150 letters of objections to Planning, a petition of 500, and a public meeting - headed by the MP and attended by 80 people with no voices raised in favour of the mast. This is a perfect example of a campaign showing public opinion is important to the church.
If fellow campaigners are fighting their local Vicar, hopefully, if they can persuade the Vicar that there is substantial opposition to the proposed mast then the Vicar will stop it to prevent disunity and disharmony in the Parish - this is the overriding factor that they will succumb to. If not complain to higher forces! Bishop, Archbishop.
Other things to try:-
Get the locals to boycott the Church. The reason they decide to accept the masts in the first place is MONEY. If they didn't get the money the Churches would not even entertain the idea of such offensive technology in the churches. Without their parishioners a church cannot survive, regardless of how much money they have.
Protest outside the church at every service. Many of the parishoners will be unaware of the mast application - let them know your feelings - give them lots of info
Get lots of publicity. Report all your stories/campaigns to the local media but also don't forget to let the Church media know:-
- The "Church of England Newspaper" Tel: 020 7878 1545 Fax: 020 7216 6410
- "Church Times" Tel: 020 7359 4570 Fax: 020 7226 3073
- Christian Times Tel: 01903 602112 Fax 01903 821081