A consultation has been launched by Digital Secretary Nicky Morgan to assess the potential of allowing greater Permitted Development Rights to Telecoms Operators in England.
Currently masts of up to 25m height are allowed without planning permission under Permitted Development rights as long as they are outwith sensitive areas such as National Parks.
The intention of the reform is to enable the rapid deployment of key infrastructure to allow wider access to the 5G network in rural areas, which is claimed to potentially add between £6bn and £13bn to the UK economy.
In terms of the planning balance, such structures could of course have an impact in sensitive areas if they are built adjacent to protected landscapes. Depending on the height of the masts, some of the standard mitigation techniques such as disguising the masts as trees or using screen planting may not be suitable for taller masts.
With Permitted Development Rights mooted of up to 50m, the masts have the potential to be taller than some wind turbines and pylons. However, with 95% of UK households owning a mobile phone, would the public be willing to overlook the potential landscape and visual impacts as most people will directly benefit from the installation?