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Clarity call over fast broadband
AN industry expert has raised concerns over the lack of clarity over proposals to roll out super-fast broadband Andrew Ferguson, editor of news and information site thinkbroadband.com, said the Government needs to address a number of key issues otherwise the new legislation could cause major problems for homeowners and telecommunications operators.
Mr Ferguson said although there will be changes to wayleave laws, which can sometimes mean one objection can hold up the process for weeks, more clarity was needed on a number of issues, including retrospective planning permission and conservation areas.
He told The Northern Echo: “Relaxation of the planning rules will mean that those telecoms operators with code powers – such as Openreach, C&W, Geo, and Virgin Media – will now be able to roll out new infrastructure in those conservation areas where prior planning permission was required.
“The majority of the UK did not require prior approval anyway, which is the reason for code powers that are granted by Ofcom. Conservation areas are usually historic town centres and picturesque villages.
“It is not clear from the release whether retrospective requests to re-site street furniture will still be entertained and at the very minimum where installations result in a danger to road users or pedestrians we assume a council can insist on rectification.”
He said he believes the issue that needs to be outlined fully is how objections by residents that are more minor, such as visual concerns, will be dealt with. “We welcome changes to the wayleave legislation, which can result in one person, landlord or business holding up a major infrastructure project, or making it totally uneconomic, but we would like to see more detail to ensure that homeowners are not going to be forced to give up land without the ability for a fair objection and compensation,” he added.
“We hope that these changes, while accelerating the Openreach superfast broadband plans, may also help alternative network operators to increase the level of competition by increasing the size of their digital islands.”