Scottish Countryside Alliance

 
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The SCA Welcomes the news that phone mast planning may be eased to boost mobile cover

The Scottish Government is set to announce a consultation on whether existing regulations make it too difficult for phone companies to build new masts.

 

 The SCA is delighted to announce that our long fought campaign to increase Scotland’s telephonic and broadband services throughout Scotland have been recognised. The Scottish Government is set to announce a consultation on whether existing regulations make it too difficult for phone companies to build new masts.

The difficulty within the current Scottish Planning Legislation centres on Permitted Development (PD) rights. Under the English and Welsh systems, Permitted Development rights for telecommunications infrastructure essentially allow mobile operators to install new equipment or upgrade existing equipment, within certain size limits, without having to go through the process of a full planning application.  Under the Scottish system, these rights are currently virtually non-existent.

The announcement of the consultation follows a report that found one-quarter of Scotland has no mobile phone coverage. Researchers further found thousands of so-called "no spots" in city centres as well as remote rural areas. 

A planning review was a key recommendation of the recent Government-backed report on mobile coverage in Scotland. It found 27.5% of Scotland was without basic 2G (second-generation technology) coverage, which allows calls to be made.

Even bigger swathes of the country have no 3G signal, which allows smartphones access to the internet and to send emails.

Mobile phones are virtually useless on many rail routes and country roads, including trunk roads. One road, the B709 in the Borders, has no 2G or 3G signal for 90% of its 60 miles.  Among other ­recommendations, the Government's report agreed with our recommendations telecom regulator Ofcom and phone firms to set up roaming agreements across Scotland. The facility would automatically switch a phone user's network if the only coverage available was from a rival provider. It also calls for a fuller audit of so-called "not spots". 

 

Recent Countryside Alliance/rootmetric research identified:

  • 24.3% of the UK does not get any 3G signal from any operator.
  • 12.8% of the UK does not get any 2G signal from any operator.
  • 27% of Scotland does not get any 2G signal from any operator
  • Mobile network not-spots cost the British economy £1.3bn per year.
  • Mobile data traffic levels have increased by a factor of five between 2009 and 2011. They are predicted to grow by a factor of more than 20 by 2013 and a factor of 35 by 2014. 
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