NCC AND NESREA’S MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS FOR THE INSTALLATION OF COMMUNICATION MASTS/TOWERS:
Telecommunication masts are ordinarily installed or placed on land or on any structures permanently attached thereto and are therefore subject to the operative land law. The NCC’s Guidelines on Technical Specifications for Installation of Masts and Towers, 2009 provide that new telecoms facilities are permitted in residential areas, according to the Guidelines. It must, however, be at least 25 meters long. All towers above 25 meters in height in residential areas must be erected at a minimum setback of 5 meters from the next demised property, excluding the fence. In addition, prior clearance from the NCC is required before erection.
Furthermore, the 2009 Regulations stipulate that no masts or towers, regardless of their height, shall be erected within 15 Kilometres of any airport, or the proximity of helicopter pads and their approaches without prior approval and permits from the Nigerian Airspace Management Authority, NAMA. Also, under Section 9 (1) (a), the maximum height for a telecommunication tower in commercial and industrial areas shall not exceed 150 meters unless the Commission is satisfied that the increased height:
a. Will not be detrimental to public health, safety, or general welfare.
b. Will not have a negative effect on the
c. Is in conformity with the plan of the particular area and the general plan of the community.
d. Will not impair compliance with any other applicable laws or guidelines.
The Guidelines further provide that where the Commission grants permission to erect towers over 150 meters in height, such towers or mast shall be set back by a minimum of 50 meters from the right-of-way of all controlled access, federal and state roadways designated as freeways, to provide unobstructed flight paths for helicopters. The mast site shall be served by a parking/loading space and any site lying 50 meters or less from a paved road shall be paved while the site that is more than 50 meters from a paved road, hard surfacing of the parking/loading spaces and driveways shall not be required for those portions of the site lying more than 50 meters from any paved road. Failure to comply with this guideline will lead to the removal of the mast by the NCC and the owner of the mast shall be responsible for the cost of removal.
On the other hand, the National Environmental (Standards for Telecommunications and Broadcast Facilities) Regulation of 2011 hereinafter referred to as “2011 Regulations.” was to protect environmental and human health, ensure safety and general welfare and minimize public and private losses due to the activities of the telecommunications and broadcasting industries. It shall be right, therefore, to deduce that the core of NESREA’s function is to ensure environmental compliance.
According to the NESREA’s 2011 Regulations, a minimum of 10 meters setback from the perimeter fence of the nearest residential property, schools, and hospitals is mandatory. Where there is no perimeter wall (fence), a Base Station/Base Transceiver Station, BTS, must be sited at a minimum of twelve (12) meters from the wall of residential/business premises schools, and hospitals to the base of the mast/tower. Such BTS must not be intrusive, by way of excessive height or cluttered structure, design, and arrangement.
Under Rule 9 (4) (a) of the NCC 2009 Guidelines, all abandoned towers that have not been used for a period of 3 years must be removed by the operator (telco or Infraco). This provision is further given teeth and currency under Rule 6 (2) of the NESREA’s 2011 Guidelines providing that any abandoned masts or towers are to be removed by the Environmental Impact Assessment Act and the NESREA Act and the extant regulations made pursuant thereto.
The NESREA regulation also makes provision for the use of power generators and encourages the use of only environmentally friendly power sources, such as solar, hydro, wind, etc. It provides that where fossil fuel generators are used, there should be a minimum setback of 15 meters from the existing surface water body or domestic water source. While generators within the base stations must be sited not less than six (6) meters away from the perimeter wall of the residential area and where there is no wall then it should be 8 meters.
On the other hand, the NCC guidelines 2009 provide that all generators within a BTS must be sited 5 meters away from all demised properties, excluding the fence, and must also be soundproof, supported by down-pads and installed on good shock absorbers to minimize vibrations and must also be placed in such a way that exhaust pipes are not directed towards any demised property. The Guidelines of 2009 also stipulate that all towers sited within residential areas must conform to the 5-meter setback stipulated to mitigate the effect of heat, smoke, and noise pollution arising from generating sets. Also, all telecommunication masts and towers are to have a minimum setback of 10 meters from Local Government roads (trunk C roads), 20 meters from State Government roads (trunk B roads), and 50 meters from Federal Government roads (trunk A roads). However, road accessibility is of the essence due to the various activities that go on within the BTS.