§ Mr. Hepburn
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what plans he has to amend planning regulations for telecommunications development. 
§ Mr. Caborn
I have today laid before Parliament an Order to make the amendments to the telecommunications permitted development rights granted under the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995 (GPDO), which I announced on 16 November 1998,Official Report, column 343, in response to a question from my hon. Friend the Member for Barnsley, East and Mexborough (Mr. Ennis). These include a new 42-day prior approval procedure for ground based masts and strengthened planning controls in Sites of Special Interest. Subject to Parliamentary procedures, the Order will enter into force on 9 July 1999.
A Departmental circular, "Planning for Telecommunications", is being issued to accompany the changes made to the GPDO. The circular sets a clear policy framework for planning for telecommunications development to keep environmental intrusion to a minimum. We look to both local planning authorities and the industry to adopt a proactive approach to identifying the best environmental solutions for telecommunications development. Pre-application discussions between the parties will allow a constructive examination of different siting and design solutions for accommodating telecommunications development at the least environmental cost. The guidance also explains the scope of telecommunications permitted development rights and the operation of the revised procedures.
Copies of the Order, the accompanying Regulatory Impact Assessment and the circular have been placed in the Library.