THE row over a communications mast that was 'illegally' erected in Northwich could prove to be a national test case.
Vale Royal Borough Council has been at loggerheads with phone company MMO2 since it put up a communications mast on Weaverham Road in Gorstage to test its Airwave communications system.
The company did not secure planning permission and instead put the mast up under emergency powers.
However, the council has not accepted this and says even if it did have the right to put the mast up, the six months it is allowed under emergency powers ended a month ago.
The mast is still up and is now being used to support the Airwave system.
MMO2 says its preferred site for a permanent mast is Cuddington Water Tower and the company is awaiting the outcome of an appeal after an application to erect a mast there was turned down.
In the meantime, the council has served an enforcement notice on the company, demanding it take down the Gorstage mast, which again MM02 has appealed against and which could have repercussions across the whole country.
Head of planning and building control Richard Ellison said: 'An enforcement notice has been served and an appeal has been lodged by MMO2.
'We expect a decision on that in the next couple of weeks. This could become a test case across the whole country as MMO2 is claiming this is a permitted development so it doesn't need planning permission.'
A number of council authorities in the South are also fighting the erection of these masts by MMO2.
Mr Ellison added: 'Some authorities have accepted this without any bother at all, but a number of authorities down south have been just as strong as Vale Royal.
'While the council can understand MMO2's problem of having no coverage for the police's communications system, at the end of the day I think the police would want this done in a way that is legitimate.'
The council says while it wants to avoid legal action, it will take the company to court if the appeals go against MMO2 and it still refuses to take the mast down.