The East Belfast Assembly Member said: “The Planners must examine their policy on phone masts immediately to stop large numbers of masts from being installed in the same area. For example, plans are afoot to install another phone mast at a location on the Upper Newtownards Road, even though there are already two in place in the vicinity.
“Mast-sharing would be a better option, but bizarrely, current planning policy does not encourage this.
“Currently, the only grounds on which planners can refuse a phone mast are visual amenity. The planners do not have the technical expertise to dispute the evidence of phone companies.
“There are so many loopholes in local planning policy on masts that very little can be done to help local residents.
“Planning policy does not allow mast-sharing, it actually plays into the hands of phone companies and allows them to create more stand-alone sites.”
Naomi Long concluded: “Having large numbers of masts in one area is wrong. Local planning policy is so inept that phone companies can exploit it at will.”