LGA slams proposed relaxation of broadband planning process
Government plans to relax the planning process for broadband rollouts are poorly thought out and a kneejerk reaction, the Local Government Association (LGA) has argued.
Culture Secretary Maria Miller proposed allowing internet service providers to install broadband infrastructure without requiring permission from councils, as well as slashing the cost and bureaucracy currently attached to laying cables in streets.
However, LGA Environment and Housing Board chairman Mike Jones said it is unfair to eradicate citizens' right to have a say on the installation of "humming junction boxes outside their windows and gardens or poles and wires festooning their streets".
Rather than simply suiting the convenience of companies and engineers, decisions related to the location of broadband infrastructure must take into account the impact on local environments, he stressed.
Mr Jones insisted councils are just as committed as the government to boosting internet services for residents and businesses.
"However, the answer isn't riding roughshod over planning protections and it's vital government doesn't lose sight of the bigger picture in a race for short-term gain," he said.
The councillor added that the coalition's failure to win EU clearance for its broadband funding is a far greater barrier to the rollout.