Consultation on the Relaxation of Planning Controls for Digital Communications Infrastructure

Closed 4 Nov 2016

Opened 10 Aug 2016


This consultation seeks views on proposed changes to planning legislation (permitted development rights) on electronic communications infrastructure (e.g. masts, cabinets and antennas).

World class digital connectivity is vital to Scotland’s economy, whether in relation to: improving the ability of business to operate effectively in attracting inward investment; the delivery of public services; contributing to a low carbon environment and having strong, connected communities in urban and rural areas. Digital connectivity takes on greater significance in Scotland, helping to address some of the disadvantages of physical distances between places. However the rural and remote nature of some of Scotland’s geography, together with low population densities in these areas, can make connecting the unconnected very challenging – from both a practical and economic perspective.

The Planning System has an important role to play in supporting digital connectivity and the rollout of electronic communication infrastructure (such as masts, equipment cabinets and antennas), and this is set out in the National Planning Framework 3 and Scottish Planning Policy. While permitted development rights already exist to remove the need for an application for planning permission for a range of such infrastructure, research has indicated there is scope to extend these permitted development rights. In taking forward such extensions to permitted development, we need to ensure an appropriate balance is struck between facilitating the rollout of such infrastructure and having appropriate planning controls on the impacts of such development on amenity and the environment.

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Why We Are Consulting

This consultation is to get views on proposed changes to legislation on permitted development rights from the general public, as well as from planning authorities, the communications industry and other businesses, and those bodies and groups with particular interests in the built heritage, natural heritage and the environment.

What Happens Next

Subject to respondent information forms, responses will be published and a report analysing the response published. The responses will be used to finalise the proposed legislation, which will be put before the Scottish Parliament for its consideration in due course. 

The responses will also be used to help draft related planning guidance on electronic communications infrastructure. 

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  • All Areas


  • People of Scotland


  • Business, Industry and Innovation
  • Building and Planning
  • Digital
  • Economy