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11 / UTILITIES & TELECOMS

UTILITIES & TELECOMMS POLICIES

Policy U2 Floodplain

Policy U3 Waste water management

Policy U4 Satellite dishes etc

Policy U5 Telecommunication equipment

INTRODUCTION

11.1 The Borough Council seeks to ensure that supporting infrastructure has the capacity to make adequate provision for all types of development proposals likely to be granted planning permission, that where necessary proposals include adequate additional provision, and that such proposals have the minimum impact on local communities including visual amenity. Provision should also be made for the reasonable land requirements of the utility companies.

INFRASTRUCTURE PROVISION

11.2 The current development proposals contained in this plan have been subjected to an initial assessment as to the carrying capacity of the necessary supporting infrastructure in the context of the operational and programming expectations of the utility companies. However, the adequacy or otherwise of infrastructure can be a material consideration in the determination of planning applications (see Policy BE30). In consultation with utility companies, the Borough Council may encourage developers to enter into legal agreements to ensure additional provision in order to bring forward otherwise acceptable developments.

FLOODING & SURFACE WATER DRAINAGE

11.4 Key areas of the Borough comprise natural flood plains which need to be protected from development or changes of use that would reduce the capacity and capability of such areas to attenuate periodic flood conditions either on site or elsewhere. Due in part to the nature of the sub-strata, the Borough is prone to significant surface water drainage problems. These continue to be tackled by the Environment Agency, Bedfordshire and River Ivel Internal Drainage Board (IDB) and the Borough Council. In this respect the Bedfordshire and River Ivel Internal Drainage Board is actively pursuing strategic solutions for the disposal of surface water drainage. Initially the Board is concentrating on the Forest of Marston Vale area and is promoting the matter through the Marston Vale Working Group. Further details are given in paragraph 3.53a. Ultimately this comprehensive approach to surface water drainage may extend to cover the whole of the IDB’s area of responsibility.

11.4a ‘Land liable to flood’ is included on the Proposals Map. The boundaries reflect those published by the Environment Agency on its Indicative Floodplain Maps (2002) and show the natural river floodplains in the Borough. A floodplain is the natural ‘overspill’ area when a river rises above its banks. The maps show the extent of the highest recorded flood, or the estimated extent of a flood with a 1% annual probability of occurrence, whichever is higher. The Maps indicate where flooding from rivers or other significant watercourses is possible. It is important to emphasise that they do not take account of flood defences and always take a conservative approach where detailed information is not readily available. Flood defences do not completely remove the risk of flooding, but they do reduce the risk. They are built to withstand a flood of a certain magnitude but can be overtopped or fail in extreme weather conditions.

11.4b Any development proposal within the area liable to flooding will be assessed against the sequential approach outlined in Planning Policy Guidance Note 25. The Environment Agency will provide any information that is available (eg. on flood defences or historical flood levels) on a site by site basis. If there are potential flood risk issues, the Council will require a flood risk assessment to be carried out in line with guidance in PPG25. This assessment should cover the site itself and also assess the potential impact elsewhere. The Environment Agency can be contacted on 01480 414581.

POLICY U2
The Borough Council will not permit development that compromises the capacity of the floodplain, balancing ponds, drainage pipes, channels and other flood defences and works to alleviate flooding, or would be at risk of being flooded, or would unacceptably increase the risk of flooding or pollution through seepage or run off.

11.5 The Borough Council will consult with the Environment Agency and the Bedfordshire and River Ivel Internal Drainage Board.

WASTE WATER MANAGEMENT

POLICY U3
The ability of development proposals to effect satisfactory means for the disposal of waste water shall be a material consideration.

11.7 The Borough Council will consult Anglian Water Services Ltd and the Environment Agency.

TELECOMMUNICATIONS

11.8 Whilst the Borough Council accepts the need to ensure that people have a choice as to the telecommunication services they may use, and thus the need for operators to erect masts and aerials, there is the concern that the proliferation of equipment should not have an adverse effect on visual amenity or the character and appearance of areas and indeed individual buildings. Experience would suggest that a technical solution can be found that will reduce such impacts. NTL has been active in installing a cable services network within the Borough and further works are programmed. In all cases the Borough Council is keen to limit inconvenience to residents and will seek to ensure that the proper reinstatement of pavements is carried out at all times.

11.8a In 2001 the Government published revised Planning Policy Guidance Note 8: Telecommunications in which it set out details of changes to the planning system to deal with telecommunications development. Following consultation on the suggestions made in the Stewart Report on Mobile Phones and Health in May 2000, the Government has confirmed in PPG8 and in revisions to the General Permitted Development Order requirements which:

– strengthen public consultation requirements on mast proposals of 15 metres and below so that they are dealt with in a similar way to applications for planning permission;

– increase the time for authorities to deal with prior approval applications to 56 days (eight weeks);

– require authorities to consult school governors on all proposals for new masts on or near a school or college;

– increase fees to enable authorities to carry out full public consultation;

– maintain in full an authority’s ability to reject applications on amenity grounds.

The Stewart Report concluded that the balance of evidence indicates that there is no general risk to the health of people living near to base stations on the basis that exposures are expected to be small fractions of the guidelines. It recommended a precautionary approach to the use of mobile phone technologies, comprising a series of specific measures, until more research findings become available, and this is endorsed in PPG8. In line with this precautionary approach, the Council will expect all mobile phone base stations to meet the guidelines of the International Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) for limiting exposure to electromagnetic fields.

POLICY U4
Where planning permission is necessary, the Borough Council will require satellite dishes and associated physical equipment to be erected in positions that minimise their visual impact, and where there would be appreciable visual benefit it will seek the provision of communal facilities for larger developments and multi-occupied premises (generally defined as 10 or more units) and require the removal of redundant equipment.
POLICY U5
Where planning permission is necessary, the Borough Council will grant planning permission for telecommunication masts and aerials provided that:
i) there is no existing mast, structure or building that can be satisfactorily used for the purpose;
ii) the proposal will replace existing masts or structures, or will facilitate future network development by reducing the need for additional masts or structures;
iii) if the site is located in the Area of Great Landscape Value, a conservation area or within the setting of a listed building, there is no suitable alternative site outside such areas;
iv) any reasonable fear of a health risk to members of the public has been addressed by the applicant confirming that the apparatus complies fully with the ICNIRP (International Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection) guidelines for limiting exposure to electromagnetic fields; and
v) the proposal is designed, landscaped and screened to minimise any adverse impact on the appearance and amenity of its surroundings.

11.9 Particular regard will be paid to the impact of proposals upon the visual amenity, character and appearance of Conservation Areas, Listed Buildings and within the Areas of Great Landscape Value.

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