Planning minister Keith Hill told MPs that councils and mobile phone operators must involve local people in decisions about where masts are built from the first stages of planning.
Local councils should consider telecommunications developments when drawing up local development documents and local strategies to deal with the growing demand for masts, Hill added. "Rather than waiting for operators to contact them with specific proposals, councils should be thinking strategically," he said.
Hill also pledged to review the latest round of a battle to site a mast near schools in Harrogate, after judges threw out a legal challenge to the controversial plan. The application was originally refused due to insufficient reassurance that there would be no harm to the health of local school children.
But the Court of Appeal ruled last month that only in "exceptional circumstances" should the planning process consider perceived health concerns.