Digital communications infrastructure: planning consultation

Consultation on proposed changes to planning legislation on electronic communications infrastructure (e.g. masts, cabinets and antennas).


1. The Planning System has a role to play in supporting and enhancing digital connectivity. National Planning Framework 3 [1] highlights the importance of digital infrastructure across towns and in cities and, in particular, in our more remote rural and island areas. Scottish Planning Policy [2] sets out the Scottish Government's support for development which helps deliver world class digital connectivity.

2. Within the development management system, a wide range of electronic communications infrastructure already benefits from 'permitted development rights' ( PD rights) which establish the principle of development, and remove the need to apply for planning permission. Such PD rights have a role to play in helping to incentivise development to support Scottish Government policy objectives. For example, they can improve certainty of outcome for developers, and can help to reduce timescales for securing any necessary permissions or approvals. PD rights also help to free up resources within planning authorities.

4. This consultation invites views specifically on the expansion of certain existing PD rights for Electronic Communications Code Operators (' ECCOs'), as well as on the introduction of new PD rights for the construction or installation of new ground based masts for ECCOs, subject to a prior approval procedure. These proposals form part of the Scottish Government's response to recommendations made in recently published independent research [3] , and set out in the Mobile Action Plan [4] published by the Scottish Government on 12 June 2016. Following the Independent Review of Planning, [5] a separate - but related - workstream is being progressed in tandem with this consultation which will look at extending permitted development rights more generally.

5. Also set out in the Mobile Action plan is the Scottish Government's commitment to working with all stakeholders to develop new Planning for Telecommunications Advice. That advice will replace the current Planning Advice Note: 62 (Radio Communications [6] ), and is intended to sit alongside any new legislation. It will set out the expectations for the different parties' roles within the development management process, as well as agreed best practice for the siting and design of electronic communications infrastructure; the advice will also provide information on the different development types and how they function. In the meantime, further information on digital infrastructure, including illustrations of 'typical' development types, can be seen in Chapter 4 and Annex F of the research.


Email: Alan Cameron

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