HC Deb 19 November 1996 vol 285 c487W
Mr. Nicholls

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what decision he has made on the proposed abolition of the regime of special advertisement control; and if he will make a statement. [4798]

Mr. Robert B. Jones

After consideration of the extensive public consultation exercise over the future of special controls, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has decided that they will remain for the time being.

The regime of special advertisement control was originally introduced in 1948 to remove the proliferation of poster panels along main roads in the countryside and to ensure continued protection against further unsuitable displays.

My Department has commissioned research into areas of special control of advertisements because little appeared to be known or properly understood about the practical consequences of ASCA designation. Contrary to the belief of many, the removal of the ASCA regime would not have created an "open season" on advertising in the countryside, because these special controls largely duplicate advertisement controls already available to local planning authorities. In particular, all new poster hoardings, except certain temporary displays screening building sites, would still have required consent from local planning authorities to be lawfully displayed. Consultation revealed that local authority associations, planning practitioners and amenity societies were not in favour of complete abolition of the regime as proposed, but wished to retain the level of protection it afforded. Having carefully considered these representations, my right hon. Friend believed it was right to continue with the ASCA regime for the time being. As for the future, we shall be looking to see if there are sensible modifications that can be made to existing systems to provide the same protection of amenity with less bureaucracy.

Copies of all the representations made in response to the Department's consultation paper have been placed in the Library of the House.