Planning Portal

Smith Announces Telecommunications Development Adjustments

Published on Mon, 3 Mar 2003
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Angela Smith, MP, the Minister of the Environment, today announced a technical adjustment of permitted development rights for telecommunications to facilitate minor day-to-day operations including the installation of underground cables and junction boxes.
The Minister emphasised that tight control over telecommunications masts would remain and that the installation, alteration or replacement of masts will continue to need planning applications.
Angela Smith said: "The current permitted development rights, if rigidly applied, would require many thousands of planning applications by operators for minor day to day activities, including moving telephone poles, laying underground cables or installing junction boxes to connect new customers.
"This would clog up the planning system, create long delays for business and private customers and undermine much needed telecommunications infrastructure investment.
"That was not what the Northern Ireland Executive intended when the law was changed to require planning permission for development proposals from mobile phone operators.
"However, the new arrangements will continue to maintain tight planning control over the installation, alteration and replacement of telecommunications masts. This amendment to the Planning (General Development) Order 1993 will provide restricted permitted development rights to code system operators to facilitate minor day-to-day activities.
"My Department will continue to maintain tight control over telecommunications masts by requiring planning applications for the installation, alteration or replacement of any mast and other apparatus associated with such masts.
"This ensures that people in local communities will continue to have a full opportunity to make their views about proposed mast development known."

Notes to Editors

  1. The General Development Order (GDO) permits certain development to be undertaken without the need to apply for express planning permission. Part 17 of Schedule 1 to the GDO provides certain permitted development rights for Telecommunication Code System Operators. Part 17 of Schedule 1 to the GDO was last amended on 21 June 2002 following a decision by the Assembly Executive Committee to remove permitted development rights from Telecommunication Code System Operators.
  2. Currently no permitted development rights are available to operators except for emergency development.
  3. DOE has revised the GDO in order to clarify the change in the planning regime and to allow minor day-to-day activities, such as underground ducting and cabling to be carried out without submitting planning applications. The amending order was made on 24 February 2003 and comes into operation on 24 March 2003.
  4. Further information contact Philip Maguire, DOE Press Office tel. 028 9054 0013.
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