Relaxation of planning controls for digital communications infrastructure: consultation responses

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


1. This consultation related to proposals to extend permitted development ( PD) rights for electronic communications code operators ( ECCO) to install their infrastructure. PD rights grant a Scotland wide planning permission for specified developments and remove the need to apply to the planning authority for an area for planning permission. The legislation applies various restrictions and conditions to that permission. In this case, particular types of development are subject to restrictions on dimensions or location, and tighter restrictions often apply to the PD rights in various designated areas [1] .

2. ECCOs are firms who have successfully applied to Ofcom to use the Electronic Communications Code, which is set out in communications legislation, in the rollout of their electronic communications infrastructure. The Code gives ECCO certain rights and obligations. Town and Country Planning legislation then specifies that ECCOs are entitled to specified PD rights in relation to their infrastructure [2] .

3. This consultation ran from 10 August to 4 November 2016 and had thirty-eight respondents, who have been split into categories for the purposes of this analysis (See Annex for details). The categories are as follows:

  • Government and agencies
  • Heritage bodies
  • Individuals
  • Industry
  • Planning Authorities, and
  • Others

4. There are some key threads and concerns raised by respondents in all categories that follow through in the responses. While these naturally reflect the interests of the sectors represented in these categories, generally, there is an understanding of the importance of digital connectivity.

5. Each section's summary details the specific questions asked and highlights the key points made across the categories. The statistics relate to the closed questions on whether or not respondents agree or disagree with a proposal are presented in the question boxes. In some cases, respondents did not answer the closed question, but still gave qualitative answers.


Email: Alan Cameron

Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit

The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House
Regent Road

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