QUEEN'S BENCH DIVISION
B e f o r e :
|CELLULAR RADIO LIMITED||Claimant|
|- v -|
|THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY FOR WALES||First Defendant|
|- and -|
|BRECON BEACONS NATIONAL PARK AUTHORITY||Second Defendant|
Smith Bernal Reporting Limited, 190 Fleet Street
London EC4A 2AG
Tel No: 020 7421 4040, Fax No: 020 7831 8838
Official Shorthand Writers to the Court)
MR G WALTERS (instructed by The Treasury Solicitor, London WC1H) appeared on behalf of the 1st Defendant
THE SECOND DEFENDANT WAS NOT PRESENT OR REPRESENTED
Crown Copyright ©
MR JUSTICE RICHARDS
"Development proposals which would improve and/or provide new facilities or infrastructure, enabling the expansion of telecommunications, telematics, information technology and information services throughout Powys will be permitted, providing they do not create unacceptable planning, access, service, environment or amenity problems."
"Development will only be approved when the following relevant criteria are satisfied:
i) its use, scale, siting and appearance will be appropriate to its surroundings and will respect the quality and character of the Park's landscape and built environment; ...."
"Telecommunication masts and installations required by statutory undertakers, telecommunications providers and the emergency services will be permitted where they conform to other policies in this Local Plan and where:
i) they are demonstrated to be essential for their operation;
ii) there is no satisfactory alternative means of providing for the facility nor the opportunity for sharing an existing facility."
"10. The proposed mast would be sited in an isolated and prominent location in the local landscape, with little or no tree or other screening. Further, whilst on its own the slim profile of the mast would be a mitigating feature, nevertheless, since it would be close to the existing lattice tower, this design would appear particularly incongruous in my view. Since the two structures would each be on their own small site, and contrary to the Appellants' contention, I do not consider that there would be any site sharing as such. It is also a drawback of the proposals that they do not seem to provide for any other operator to share the proposed mast.
11. I have considered that, for technical rather than ownership reasons, the Appellants evidently cannot share the existing tower. I have also taken into account that there is a gap in the Appellants' transmission and reception coverage in the Bwlch locality, including along some 6 km of the A40. Nevertheless, bearing in mind that they already provide service for 98% of the population of the country - whatever that area might be - compared with their licence requirement to provide service to 90% of the population, there would appear to be no overriding need for the proposed mast.
12. I conclude, therefore, on the main issue in this case that the proposals would have a seriously harmful effect on the character and appearance of this part of the National Park, and that there is no overriding need for them in the public interest. As such, it would not be in accordance with Policy CS9 of the structure plan in that they would cause unacceptable planning, environmental and amenity problems for the conservation of this specially designated landscape. At the same time, they would not be in accordance with Policy PU10 of the local plan since they are not essential for the operation of the relevant licensed service, even though no satisfactory alternative means of providing for the facility has been suggested nor is there the opportunity for sharing the existing lattice tower.
13. In addition, the proposals would be contrary to national guidance but where there appears to be a conflict with other interests in the National Park, greater weight should be given to the preservation and enhancement of the natural beauty of the area than to those other interests."
The Issues before this Court