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Telecommunications Masts: Planning Controls

Volume 592: debated on Thursday 30 July 1998

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asked Her Majesty's Government:What representations they have received about the current planning controls on the erection of telecommunications masts. [HL3173]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions
(Lord Whitty)

We have received a number of representations from local authorities, from industry and from the working group which has been considering the effectiveness of our Code of Best Practice for telecommunications prior to approval procedures.After careful consideration, we have concluded that the use of permitted development rights continues to be appropriate for this type of development but that there is scope for improving procedures in order to address a number of concerns.In doing this, we aim to strike the right balance between facilitating a competitive national telecommunications network and protecting our environment. We have today published a consultation paper on proposals for changes to the control of development by licensed telecommunications operators under the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995. Copies of the consultation paper have been placed in the Library.The main change proposed is a new two-stage procedure for ground-based masts erected under permitted development rights, to allow time for greater public consultation over their siting and appearance. This will give the public a clear opportunity to comment upon the installation of a mast in sensitive cases where such development would impact upon their amenity. We also propose to increase the protection currently afforded to sites of special scientific interest in this context by making telecommunications development in these areas subject to similar constraints as already apply in areas such as national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty. This would include development such as the installation of masts and antennas being made subject to a full planning application in SSSIs.