Temporary Mobile Telecoms Mast on Hyde Common

I am getting a lot of enquiries about the large telecoms mast that has been put up on Hyde Common. The land is owned by Hampshire County Council and the mast has been put up by Waldon Telecom, I understand on behalf of EE.

I have tried to keep local residents informed over recent weeks and the proposals for the temporary mast were discussed at the Hyde Annual Parish Meeting on the 22nd May but I appreciate that its arrival may have been a surprise for many.

Below is a brief explanation of the situation as I understand it:

Hampshire County Council has granted permission for the erection of a temporary mast on its land for a period of no more than 18 months. This decision followed a Court order requiring the removal of a mast previously sited on nearby private land and is intended to allow time for the operator to obtain permission for a new permanent mast to be sited off Common and environmentally protected land. The County Council sought advice regarding the powers available to mobile telecom operators and determined that granting an 18 month licence to site temporary equipment, while clearly advising the operator that the Council does not believe that the siting of a permanent mast on the Common is appropriate, best protected the Council’s position to defend against a permanent encroachment.

I am advised that Natural England assent is required to site such equipment on a SSSI and would assume that this has been obtained by the operator.

Following enquiries to the National Park Authority I am advised that Planning Permission is not required for many telecom masts and associated equipment/structures and that the current temporary mast meets the requirements of ‘permitted development’ afforded to mobile telecommunications providers.

While no formal consultation has been undertaken by the operator, I have sought to keep the Parish Council updated on the situation (https://www.hydeparish.net/meeting-minutes).

Information on the ‘Telecom Code’ which gives certain powers to telecom operators can be found at https://www.ofcom.org.uk/phones-telecoms-and-internet/information-for-industry/policy/electronic-comm-code but I include and extract below.

What do Code powers allow an operator to do?
Code powers allow an operator to have access to the public highway to perform certain street works necessary for the construction, inspection, maintenance, adjustment, repair and/or alteration of associated network apparatus, without the need for a specific street works licence.

Code powers also enable an operator to benefit from certain immunities from the Town and Country Planning legislation

The Code confers “code rights” on a person with Code powers. A “code right is a right —

to install electronic communications apparatus on, under or over the land;
to keep installed apparatus which is on, under or over land;
to inspect, maintain, and operate apparatus;
to carry out any works on the land to enable apparatus to be installed and maintained;
to gain access to land to maintain or operate apparatus;
to connect to a power supply;
to interfere with or obstruct a means of access to or from the land (whether or not any electronic communications apparatus is on, under or over the land), or
to lop or cut back any tree or other vegetation that could interfere with apparatus.
In the event that agreement cannot be reached with the owner or occupier of private land, the Code allows an operator to apply to the Court to impose an agreement which confers the Code right being sought or for the Code right to bind the landowner or occupier.

Code powers also allow an operator to claim compensation from a local authority in circumstances where that local authority has obstructed access to electronic communications apparatus in certain stipulated circumstances.”