Masts and planning

07 September 2010

Wireless Telegraphy Act licences issued by Ofcom authorise the use of radio spectrum anywhere within the area licensed. For mobile phone networks, this is nationally within the UK. While the WT Act licences set the technical conditions for how such apparatus must be constructed and operated, Ofcom has no involvement in the planning process for physical structures such as masts, buildings etc. that may host radio equipment, which is a matter for local planning authorities.

Planning procedures vary across the UK regions and are subject to various national and devolved administrations' laws. Ofcom does not have statutory responsibilities for planning but has compiled the following guidance on these issues.

Planning policy

Ofcom has no role in the enforcement of planning law or the siting of telecommunications masts. The responsibility for planning policy falls to the DCLG - Department for Communities and Local Government. In particular, Section 5 (paragraphs 42 46) of DCLGs National Planning Policy Framework (March 2012) outlines the planning criteria for communications infrastructure for England and Wales. There is also a Code of best practice on mobile network development in England.

National governments have developed their own planning policies:

Scotland: Scottish Planning Policy (Issued Monday, June 23, 2014)

http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2014/06/5823

Northern Ireland: Strategic Planning Policy Statement for Northern Ireland (Sept 2015)

http://www.planningni.gov.uk/index/policy/spps.htm

Communications operators may apply to Ofcom for an authorisation of the Electronic Communications Code to facilitate planning applications but, other than granting this (subject to consultation) and keeping a list of authorised companies, Ofcom takes no part in the planning process.

Planned or proposed sites

Individual planning authorities administer the planning laws locally and issue permission to build through the normal planning process. Views or questions about planning applications for any specific site should be addressed to the relevant local planning authority. Addresses for local councils can be found at

http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Dl1/Directories/Localcouncils/index.htm

Industry information on masts and planning issues

The industry website: www.mobilemastinfo.com contains a number of fact sheets and other resources, as well as providing specific contact points for the mobile operators.

March 2016