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Publication - Consultation Responses

Relaxation of planning controls for digital communications infrastructure: consultation responses

Published: 25 May 2017
Part of:
Building, planning and design, Economy, Research
ISBN:
9781786529589

Analysis of responses to public consultation on digital infrastructure (e.g. phone masts, street cabinets and antennas).

32 page PDF

415.4kB

32 page PDF

415.4kB

Contents
Relaxation of planning controls for digital communications infrastructure: consultation responses
Extension Of Existing PD Rights - Emergency Works

32 page PDF

415.4kB

Extension Of Existing PD Rights - Emergency Works

Q5 - Do you agree with proposals to extend the time period for emergency works from 12 to 18 months? (Yes - 21, No - 4 )

Respondent Group Yes No Comments only No answer/ comment Total
Industry 5 1 6
Planning Authority 9 1 10
Govt & Agencies 1 1 2 4
Heritage Bodies 2 2 3 7
Individuals 4 1 5
Other 2 4 6
Total 21 4 3 10 38

18. Most of those responding to this question, and this was across the different categories, were in agreement with the time period extension for emergency works.

19. Those with concerns felt that the existing timescales should be long enough, or that further conditions and controls should apply to extended timescales, or that case by case consideration should apply as to any emergency period as works become less than temporary. There were suggestions of time limits for restoration as well as the emergency itself and requirements to notify the planning authority when emergency works cease to be required. A lack of a statutory definition in planning of 'emergency' was mentioned by some.

20. 'Industry' highlighted the importance of network integrity and the sometimes complex issues around acquisition and planning issues regarding a replacement site and works for installing replacement equipment in remoter areas.

21. Some 'Industry' respondents sought removal of the word 'moveable' as regards certain emergency apparatus, which they felt was confusing, and there were suggestions from some 'Industry' respondents and a 'Planning Authority' for agreed extensions to the set periods to prevent a planning application being required where emergency works run slightly over the time limit.

Extension Of Existing PD Rights - Small Antenna On Buildings

Q6 - Do you agree with the proposed extension of Class 67 PD rights for small antenna on buildings, including dwelling houses?(Yes - 18, No - 7 )

Respondent Group Yes No Comments only No Answer/ Total
Industry 3 1 1 1 6
Planning Authority 9 1 10
Govt & Agencies 1 1 2 4
Heritage Bodies 2 3 1 1 7
Individuals 2 3 5
Other 1 1 4 6
Total 18 7 4 9 38

22. While 'Industry' generally welcomed the additional PD rights for small antennas, one indicated that these changes would not go far enough in ensuring the necessary equipment for 4G and 5G rollout, and improvements in capacity and coverage necessary with increase in demand for services. They cited the approach in England to 'small cell systems' which allow for ancillary equipment supporting the small antennas to be installed on buildings and structures.

23. Most others accepted the changes proposed would have limited impacts.

24. Those with concerns mentioned that 'small antennas' were not necessarily that small in certain contexts. There were suggestions around retaining rather than removing some of the existing restrictions on the location of small antennas on buildings and some suggestions for further controls of this kind. Scottish Natural Heritage ( SNH) was concerned about impacts on European protected species, despite other legal requirements in this regard, and cited training and guidance as ways to avoid problems. Some among 'Heritage Bodies' and 'Individual' categories did not agree with extending PD rights in this area, being concerned about intrusion on sensitive buildings and visual clutter in particular.

Extension Of Existing PD Rights - Alterations And Replacements Of Existing Ground Based Masts

Q7 -Do you agree with the proposed increase in height allowed for altered or replaced ground based masts under Class 67 PD rights? (Yes - 18, No - 6 )

Respondent Group Yes No Comments only No Comment/ Answer Total
Industry 3 2 1 6
Planning Authority 6 3 1 10
Govt & Agencies 1 1 2 4
Heritage Bodies 3 1 2 1 7
Individuals 3 2 5
Other 2 4 6
Total 18 6 6 8 38

Q8 - Do you agree with the proposed increase in maximum distance allowed between the original and replacement ground based masts under Class 67? (Yes - 16, No - 11 )

Respondent Group Yes No Comments only No answer/ comment Total
Industry 3 2 1 6
Planning Authority 7 2 1 10
Govt & Agencies 1 1 2 4
Heritage Bodies 2 4 1 7
Individuals 3 2 5
Other 1 1 4 6
Total 16 11 3 8 38

Q9a - Should the current width restriction of one third the original or one metre (whichever is larger) for alterations to ground based masts be increased? (Yes - 11 , No - 15 )

Respondent Group Yes No Comments only No answer/ comment Total
Industry 5 1 6
Planning Authority 2 6 2 10
Govt & Agencies 1 3 4
Heritage Bodies 1 4 1 1 7
Individuals 2 3 5
Other 1 1 4 6
Total 11 15 3 9 38

Q9b - What should the new restriction be?

Respondent Group Comments No Answer/Comment Total
Industry 5 1 6
Planning Authority 8 2 10
Govt & Agencies 2 2 4
Heritage Bodies 4 3 7
Individuals 3 2 5
Other 1 5 6
Total 23 15 38

25. Overall some respondents felt changes were marginal and therefore would not result in adverse impacts, whereas others had the opposite opinion. Concerns related to adverse impacts in relation to design and cumulative impacts related to landscapes, the setting of listed buildings, conservation areas, and urban areas more generally. Alternatives and mitigation methods were suggested by respondents

26. 'Industry' was generally welcoming of changes that allow for greater flexibility to increase the size of masts or install replacement masts, highlighting the benefits for increases in coverage and in the capacity for mast sharing. They were concerned a percentage limit on height increases would be complex and lead to odd results and suggested a seven metre rather than five metres plus 10% limit. One firm was concerned that PD rights might set a 'glass ceiling' for mast heights, i.e. concerned that the larger masts required for their networks, and for which they apply for planning permission, might be refused or treated unfavourably.

27. Another firm had detailed concerns about measurements regarding: the non-inclusion of antennas but including supporting rods for antennas; inclusion of plinths; the use of the 'original mast' as the starting point measuring increases; and limits on the distance over which replacement masts can be installed under PD rights (citing the lack of a specified distance in other UK administrations' PD rights).

28. Other firms shared the latter point, and there were also 'Industry' suggestions around extending or removing the restriction on increases in the width of ground based masts, again to allow flexibility in the use of existing sites and potential for sharing.

29. A slight majority of 'Planning Authority' respondents agreed the changes in height and distance for replacement masts. Those against or concerned focussed mainly on the potential impact in designated areas and suggested exemptions from PD rights in such areas. Some agreed with 'Industry' respondents on the concept of a flat rate of 7 metres. The benefit of taller masts for better coverage was recognised, it was mentioned that the public have come to understand this too.

30. On width restrictions, again a slight majority were in favour of existing restrictions, with two wanting increases in PD rights and two wanting more restrictions in designated areas in this regard.

31. 'Government and Agencies' were split, with the Ministry of Defence ( MOD) concerned about the potential impacts, as with new masts, of existing masts getting taller, moving position or both in safeguarded areas and potentially affecting the apparatus at aerodromes and other technical sites. HES were accepting of increase in height and the existing width limits, but had concerns about the impact of replacement masts changing position and affecting visual amenity in sensitive areas and disturbing the ground and archaeology, whether designated or not. SNH had concerns about the impact of the original siting and design solutions, particularly the potential for significant effects with an increase in the distance which replacement masts can be from the original; they said guidance should highlight the potential issues.

32. 'Heritage Bodies' were concerned about repeated incremental increases in height. They suggested colour treatment for equipment, landscape mitigation, inclusion of antenna in the overall specification of height, and cumulative impacts on listed buildings and conservation areas. Further, they sought clarity over retaining and replacing masts and adequate safeguards for the settings of historic assets.

33. 'Heritage Bodies 'were split over retaining existing width constraints, some wanting tighter requirements. They were split over replacement masts, with half concerned about the potential for unacceptable impacts on the visual amenity of built heritage and ground disturbance affecting archaeology. Some mentioned guidance and prior approval as potential approaches to addressing such concerns.

34. 'Individual' respondents were split, with some seeing a need for flexibility and others concerned about increases in height being overbearing, that technological advancements should mean smaller masts, and concerns about sprawling masts.

35. Responses in the 'Others' category were generally accepting of the proposed changes with some concern about potential visual impact.

36. Extending the distance was mentioned by 'Planning Authority' respondents to allow more flexibility, as the 4 metres is often too restrictive. Concern was raised over sensitive areas, stating that it is not possible to generalise what would be acceptable under PD rights. It was felt that the prior approval procedures may not pick up on certain impacts related to the historic environment - such as, archaeology.


Contact

Email: Alan Cameron

Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit

The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House
Regent Road
Edinburgh
EH1 3DG