CLA responds to plans to boost mobile coverage through larger masts

27 August 2019

The CLA has responded to the dual DDCMS’ announcement of a £30m fund to support 5G projects in rural areas and plans to simplify planning law around mobile masts.  Mark Bridgeman, Deputy President of the Country Land and Business Association (CLA), said:

“The vast potential of the rural economy will only be fulfilled when everyone in the countryside has full mobile connectivity, and we welcome DDCMS’s intent to deliver the Prime Minister’s promise of internet access for all.

“The current situation, where only 67% of the country can access a decent signal, is unacceptable and Government is right to focus on planning reform as a means to removing current barriers.  There must also be a balance between the interests of landowners and mobile operators.”


Rural 5G trials:

Up to ten rural locations will be chosen to run innovative trials of 5G applications and stimulate commercial investment in 5G technology which offers mobile speeds 10 to 20 times faster than previous generations.

The Rural Connected Communities competition is the latest wave of £200 million funding to pioneer 5G testbeds across the country and deliver the benefits of the highest speeds of mobile connectivity available.

This technology is already being used in the Orkney Islands to remotely monitor salmon fisheries and improve efficiency of wind farms, and in Shropshire, the 5G trials are showing how farming can be transformed through targeted crop-spraying and soil analysis with drones and tractors.

The new funding will build on projects like these and trial other uses of 5G in rural communities to help drive business growth, enhance lives and encourage innovation.

Rural businesses interested in applying for the 5G Rural Connected Communities Project can find out more on the government website.


Mobile masts:

The Government has also launched a consultation on proposals to simplify planning rules to improve rural mobile coverage.

Reforming planning laws for mobile infrastructure forms part of the Prime Minister’s plan to level-up connectivity for communities across the UK, further support the roll-out of 5G and boost our economy. The consultation on potential changes to permitted development rights for mobile infrastructure in England includes proposals on:

  • Changing the permitted height of new masts to deliver better mobile coverage, promote mast sharing and minimise the need to build more infrastructure;
  • Allowing existing ground-based masts to be strengthened without prior approval to enable sites to be upgraded for 5G and for mast sharing;
  • Deploying radio equipment cabinets on protected and unprotected land without prior approval; and
  • Allowing building-based masts nearer to roads to support 5G and increase mobile coverage.

The Government is also seeking views on what measures industry could offer to mitigate the impact of any new infrastructure, including assurances of a greater use of existing sites and the removal of redundant masts.