HC Deb 21 January 1997 vol 288 cc524-5W
Mr. Simon Coombs

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when he proposes to announce the outcome of his recent consultation exercise on possible changes to the permitted development rights for satellite and other antennas. [12303]

Mr. Robert B. Jones

Last year, we consulted on some possible minor amendments to the present rights to install satellite dishes and other antennas without the need to submit a planning application. The changes were intended to keep the legislation up to date with developments in telecommunications. They attracted considerable support and we have therefore decided to proceed with them.

The main change is bringing the permitted size of satellite dishes in the south and east of the country into line with the rest of the country. The slight increase in permitted dish size in the south and east will then enable householders in these areas to access more readily the choice of satellite channels currently enjoyed by the rest of the UK and allow the different satellite TV companies to compete on a more equal basis.

We will also be giving a new freedom to telephone users who wish to change to a radio fixed-link service enabling them to install a small antenna on their building—or two in the case of a large building. This will widen the choice of telephone services available to the consumer. And finally, there will be a new flexibility to install a satellite antenna rather than a terrestrial antenna on large buildings, helping businesses to communicate more easily.

These changes will increase consumer choice and promote further competition in the telecommunications industry, but will have a minimal impact on the appearance of towns and the countryside. Planning applications will continue to be required in a range of circumstances in conservation areas, national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty. We are now preparing the necessary order.

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