When I was a councillor on Lincoln City a total of three applications for phone masts came in front of the Planning Committee.
Due to a prejudicial interest I never took part in the discussion however I was pleased to see that the councillors understood the laws around the applications. Two of the applications were accepted without much fuss.
The third was from O2 at the Birchwood shopping centre. It was a retrospective for a 13 metre poll with 3g aerials on top. They had already got consent (via appeal) for a 13 metre poll with 2g on top, but put up a 3g mast instead (only real difference was an extra 10cm in diameter of the bit at the top). It was felt by the committee that the overall shape of the structure was detrimental to the visual amenity of the area, however the planning inspectorate appeal again overturned the committee.
Due to the nature of my job, I keep an eye out for all things related to them. This includes Google Alerts which pick up local papers covering “Councillor x outraged over new phone mast”. They tend to go on about how it’s too close to the houses (people, not cows, need phone coverage), too close to other masts (which belong to other companies), that the company already have masts in their area (which are nowhere near the current application), that they will damage the street scene (most masts these days look like lamp posts without the lights, some even have lights attached), that we will all die of cancer (still no proof of this so far, and the reason why “health factors” can’t be considered by a planning committee anyway). I just wish that as a LibDem when I research Councillor x, they weren’t LibDem too, however it seems that like fortnightly bin collections, councillors from all parties are opposed to them when votes count.
From my experiences of speaking to customers with coverage issues around their homes and workplaces, I reckon for every person who signs a petition against a mast, someone else will be complaining about a lack of signal.