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  5. 13 September 2012
  6. Superfast broadband planning regime changes proposed

Superfast broadband planning regime changes proposed

Moves to fast-track the roll-out of superfast broadband have been announced by culture secretary Maria Miller.

The Government believes access to this technology is crucial for the UK’s economic future.

Under the proposals, broadband street cabinets and other infrastructure would be installed without the need for prior approval from the local council except where Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) are affected.

In addition, overhead broadband lines would be installed in any area without the need for planning or other permission although ministers will encourage providers to engage with the local community on the siting of overhead lines as a matter of good practice.

This new more permissive regime will last for five years and will be brought in using existing or new legislation. Ministers have insisted that councils will only be allowed to specify conditions on the construction or design of the infrastructure in “exceptional circumstances”.

Ministers also intend to make it easier for companies to lay broadband cables in streets and to install cabinets and cables under private land.

The Government has signalled that it wants to work with mobile operators, local government and other interested parties to consider ways that the planning process might be streamlined to speed up the deployment of mobile infrastructure.

Miller said: “Superfast broadband is vital to secure our country’s future - to kick start economic growth and create jobs. We are putting in the essential infrastructure that will make UK businesses competitive and sweeping away the red tape that is a barrier to economic recovery.”

The Coalition plans to invest £680m to ensure the UK has the best superfast broadband in Europe by 2015.

Both the Local Government Association and the Planning Officers Society have voiced concern that although SSSIs were to remain protected, special measures for conservation areas, listed buildings or ancient monuments had been overlooked.

View further information on the Department for Culture, Media and Sport’s website.

Roger Milne

13 September 2012