10 September 2020

5G phone masts

Last year, we submitted a response to the national consultation on proposals to simplify planning rules relating to telecommunications infrastructure. The Government asked for views on whether relaxed rules might help to improve rural mobile coverage and speed up the roll-out of 5G and also what the rule changes might be.

Having considered the responses to the consultation, the Government is satisfied that the proposed reforms would have a positive impact on their ambitions for the deployment of 5G and extending mobile coverage. However, the Government appears to have taken on board comments made by us and others that the increase in permitted development rights for telecommunications infrastructure should not apply in the same way in protected areas such as National Parks and AONBs as it does outside these areas.

We recognise how important digital connectivity is for rural communities, but we are pleased that the need for special attention to be paid to protected landscapes and their settings in any reform of the rules has been recognised. A further consultation is proposed on the technical detail of the proposed changes, including detail of how the rules might vary to give greater protection for these areas.

Read the outcome to the consultation here: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/proposed-reforms-to-permitted-development-rights-to-support-the-deployment-of-5g-and-extend-mobile-coverage 

Update 25th October 2019

We have submitted a response to the national consultation on proposals to simplify planning rules relating to telecommunications infrastructure. The Government asked for views on whether relaxed rules might help to improve rural mobile coverage and speed up the roll-out of 5G and also what the rule changes might be.

Recognising how important digital connectivity is for rural communities, we have responded to the consultation highlighting the need for special attention to be paid to protected landscapes and their settings in any reform of the rules.

We have made suggestions as to how the rules could be amended to enable telecommunications infrastructure to be installed or upgraded in ways that minimise the impact on the landscape and ensure that opportunities are taken to enhance it.

The consultation document can be accessed here

Our written response to this consultation can be viewed / downloaded here (pdf)


27th August 2019

Nicky Morgan, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), has announced a consultation on proposals to simplify planning rules with a view to improving rural mobile coverage.

The consultation document can be accessed here


Friends of the Lake District fully understands that rural communities are keen to obtain levels of digital connectivity such as fast broadband and good mobile ‘phone signals in order to support both work and leisure. Such technology is essential not only for our rural communities to remain vital and viable into the future but also to ensure that the emergency services, including Mountain Rescue, can continue to operate effectively across the country. 

However, these needs must be balanced with the essential provisions of the environment, including the health and well-being benefits we derive from the peace, tranquillity and beauty of the landscape and its many components.  As such, we welcome the recognition given by Nicky Morgan, the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport that the proposals for new taller communications masts will have to strike a balance between the landscape and better connectivity and respect certain areas of outstanding natural beauty. We also acknowledge her suggestion that larger masts may accommodate more equipment, potentially reducing the number of masts required overall. 

We have not yet considered the current consultation in detail but in order to ensure that this balance can be struck, where new communications infrastructure is required we would be keen to see:

• The choice of location of masts being informed by landscape evidence such as Landscape Character Assessments, Landscape and Visual Impact Assessments and evidence on the Cumulative Impact of Vertical Infrastructure;

• Special considerations for protected landscapes and their settings, such as additional need and landscape evidence requirements, additional design and mitigation requirements and a lower maximum height (as is currently the case);

• Consideration of alternatives to new masts, such as mounting equipment on existing buildings or existing masts wherever viable and appropriate;

• Maximise mast sharing between different providers;

• A commitment to rationalise mast provision (i.e. to always use the minimum number of masts needed) and to remove any masts that are no longer required;

• New mast provision to be coupled with undergrounding of existing wires as mitigation and a commitment to underground new wires.