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That was the message to Residents up and down the UK from Mast Sanity yesterday as Mobile Phone Operators (MPOs) resort to increasingly desperate and dubious means to erect their Mobile Phone Masts as part of the nationwide 3G roll-out prior to OFCOM’s audit in 2007. 

The latest ploy being used is a variation on the infamous 56 day Time Limit. (The 56 day Time Limit allows MPOs to erect masts that are under 15m in height, if a Local Planning Authority (LPA) doesn’t notify them by the 56 day time limit to say that they can’t put the mast up.) 

In the latest ploy, the date for the acceptance of a Mobile Telephone Mast Application is being disputed. By using an earlier date than that accepted by the LPA, the MPO's Agent claim that the 56 day Time Limit has been exceeded. Consequently, notification letters sent out in good time within the 56 day Time Limit are treated as being outside the time limit. If the LPA doesn't defend their time scale the MPO may, with no outright permission, put up the mast claiming to have Permitted Development Rights. 

Armed with a slewed interpretation of the Planning process Agents have already convinced at least one Council to allow a mast to be built :- 

Residents in Woking in Surrey woke up on the morning of Tuesday 7th November to find that a 9.7m mast had been erected outside their houses by T-Mobile – completely without warning. It transpired that the LPA – Woking Borough Council - had been aware of the problem for roughly 4 months but had not informed local residents (including any who had objected to the Application) and had given the MPO the OK to erect the mast. The LPA had been rather quick to accept the operator's argument and made no attempt to defend their position on the date in question. Residents are currently receiving legal advice. 

The problem of the 56-day Time Limit has been around for over 5 years. Mast Sanity have repeatedly told the Government about this, even face to face, yet nothing has been done to tighten up the loophole in Planning legislation. 

It is extremely disappointing and completely unacceptable that Residents are still being put in this situation after so many years.