HC Deb 23 January 1984 vol 52 cc403-5W
Mr. Gerald Howarth

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment when he intends to publish proposals for amendments to the general development order; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Macfarlane

We are today issuing a consultation paper on proposals for amendments to the General Development Orders 1977 to 1981. These orders apply to England and Wales. In the light of comments on our proposals, we intend to seek parliamentary approval for a new consolidated order which will include as appropriate the amendments on hazardous developments now before the House together with any changes which result from the consultation paper on minerals development published in 1983.

The main need is for changes to update the present GDO provisions about agriculture and telecommunications. The agricultural provisions of the present GDO have remained unchanged for some 35 years, and have been subject to successive interpretations over the years. We therefore intend to replace the present wording with a clearer basis for deciding whether agricultural buildings qualify for permitted development rights. In fulfilment of commitments in the manifesto and in the Government's recent response to the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution's seventh report, we also propose to strengthen controls on the siting of buildings for housing livestock. We propose that any such buildings within 100 metres of residential property should require specific planning permission. This new restriction would also apply to intensive livestock units.

We need changes also to provide a satisfactory planning framework for developments in telecommunications. The Telecommunications Bill now before Parliament provides for new arrangements for licensed operators to provide public telecommunications systems.

We therefore propose:

A new general permission to erect telegraph poles, wires, ducts, small antennae and other small plant, for licensed public telecommunications systems licensed under the provisions of the telecommunications code (including cable systems) in order to provide environmental safeguards. Use of this permission will be restricted by means of telecommunications licence conditions designed to safeguard against the proliferation of new overhead wires, particularly in sensitive areas.

To facilitate microwave telecommunications transmissions, we propose a new general permission to erect one microwave dish aerial on existing commercial buildings over 15 m high.

Given likely developments on direct broadcasting by satellite, we propose amending the existing permitted development rights for domestic householders so that dish aerials for satellite TV reception can be placed at the front of houses, in order to obtain a line of sight to the satellite, as well as at the back, providing the height of the house is not increased, subject to a size limit of 90 cm. This permission, and the permission for telecommunications microwave aerials on commercial buildings, would not extend to listed buildings, nor to buildings in national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty. The paper invites comments about the merits of introducing a new permission for dish aerials on domestic buildings in conservation areas.

These are the most wide-ranging of the proposed changes; but we propose to take the opportunity of consolidation to update the order in a number of ways and to remove anomalies. For example, we propose to grant the Civil Aviation Authority a new general permission for minor developments needed for air traffic control, and to extend to warehouses the permitted development rights already available for industrial buildings.

We also propose to replace the current Special Development Order 1981, which imposes a narrower set of permitted development rights in national parks, AONBs, and conservation areas, with a new SDO to bring all such areas established since 1981 within its ambit.

We have placed a copy of the consultation paper in the Library. Responses are requested by 19 March.