§ Mr. Norman
To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will estimate the number of new mobile phone masts to be erected in the United Kingdom in each of the next three years. 
§ Ms Hewitt
No estimate has been made, and I do not have the commercial information available to enable me to make one. However, it is Government policy to limit the number of masts where possible through mast sharing. The Telecommunications Act 1984 licences of the mobile network operators therefore require that before they erect a new mast they investigate the possibility of using an existing mast belonging to themselves or another licensee; of replacing an existing mast belonging to themselves or another licensee with a mast for joint use; and of erecting, in co-operation with any other telecommunications operator, a mast for their joint use. This is reinforced by the Government's planning policy, which is to encourage mast and site sharing where appropriate.