DCMS consults on planning rule changes to bolster rural mobile coverage

27 Aug 2019

The UK government has lunched a consultation on proposals to simplify planning rules with a view to improving rural mobile coverage. In a press release regarding the matter, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) noted that the consultation on potential changes to permitted development rights for mobile infrastructure in England includes proposals on: changing the permitted height of new masts to deliver better mobile coverage, promote mast sharing and minimise the need to build more infrastructure; allowing existing ground-based masts to be strengthened without prior approval to enable sites to be upgraded for 5G and for mast sharing; deploying radio equipment cabinets on protected and unprotected land without prior approval, excluding sites of special scientific interest; and allowing building-based masts nearer to roads to support 5G and increase mobile coverage. Further, the consultation also seeks views on what measures the industry could offer to mitigate the impact of any new infrastructure, including assurances of a greater use of existing sites and the removal of redundant masts.

Commenting, Esther McVey, Minister of State for Housing and Planning, said: ‘We’re committed to delivering the homes people across the country need, and that includes delivering the right infrastructure such as broadband connectivity and good mobile coverage. There is nothing more frustrating than moving into your new home to find signal is poor. That’s why we are proposing to simplify planning rules for installing the latest mobile technology – helping to extend coverage and banish more of those signal blackspots, particularly for those living in rural areas.’

Alongside the launch of the consultation, the DCMS also announced the launch of a GBP30 million (USD36.7 million) competition, which it says aims to ‘spark a tech revolution in countryside communities and help rural Britain seize the opportunities of 5G technology’. The government body revealed that up to ten rural locations will be chosen to run innovative trials of 5G applications and stimulate commercial investment in 5G technology under the ‘Rural Connected Communities competition’.