The government has launched a consultation on plans to tear up the planning rule book for 5G masts and associated infrastructure, in a bid to speed up planning consent.
Among its proposals: letting telcos install radio equipment cabinets on protected land “without prior consent”; allowing taller masts; letting existing ground-based masts be “strengthened” or upgraded to 5G without prior approval;and allowing building-based masts to be built nearer to roads to support 5G and increase mobile coverage.
Minister of State for Housing and Planning, Rt Hon Esther McVey MP said today: “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.”
Rural 5G: Despite Relaxing of Planning Rules, CPRE Welcomes Move
The plans were met with a perhaps suprisingly warm reaction from the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE).
Matt Thomson, Head of Land Use and Planning, told Computer Business Review in an emailed comment: “It is fantastic that rural communities, many of whom have been cut off and left behind in terms of modern communications, will be now be able to access fast and reliable mobile phone signal. The new 5G network will transform the lives of those living in our market towns and villages, bringing new opportunities and economic growth. Better mobile connectivity can also contribute to addressing the climate emergency by reducing the need to travel, particularly for businesses.
“We’re pleased to see that a central plank of the new proposals is that mobile phone operators must work together to provide joint infrastructure, which will reduce the potential for duplicate masts, and that there will be consultation on the new proposals.”
Pushing forward with its national 5G investment plan the UK government has committed £30 million to rural projects, today announcing a “Rural Connected Communities” competition that will make £30 million funding available for ten 5G research and development projects over the next two years.
The program will select up to ten rural locations where trials of 5G technology will be undertaken.The funding for the initiative is being taken from a £200 million investment pot allocated under the 5G Testbeds and Trials Programme from the National Productivity Investment Fund (NPIF).
The competition is open to applications from across the UK. Applications are likely to be consortia comprising a mix of public, private and academia. The competition opens today and closes on the 25 of October. Successful applicants will have a Grant claim period from 1 of January 2020 until 31 March 2022.
Julian David, CEO of techUK commented that: “As important as the financial support for innovative uses for 5G is, the recognition that the way planning rules are implemented is a big factor in the level of connectivity. I am pleased the Government is now proposing to simplify those rules as they apply to mobile masts in England and urges them to move swiftly to make these changes.”