Petition launched to remove automatic planning permission for telegraph poles

Telegraph poles are sparking anger across the UK
Telegraph poles are sparking anger across the UK (Image credit: Getty Images)

A petition has been launched to force telecommunications companies to apply for planning permission for telegraph poles.

Currently, operators can erect telegraph poles without having to apply to councils for planning permission.

But there have been a series of protests and outcry across the country as residents feel their concerns over what many have dubbed ‘eyesores’ are being ignored.

What are the planning rules for telegraph poles?

A 2013 amendment to the Electronic Communications Code 2003 allows companies to install overhead cables, but not in conservation areas.

The work is considered permitted development if “the work is by or on behalf of an electronic communications code operator for the purpose of the operator’s electronic communications network in, on, over or under land controlled by that operator or in accordance with the electronic communications code, consisting of the installation, alteration or replacement of any electronic communications apparatus.”

Telecommunications companies are required to give councils 28 days’ notice of their intention to install a pole but there are no real grounds of objection. They are also required to advertise their intention within the vicinity of the site.

Therefore, the wooden and steel poles do not require any form of permission or consent from the Local Planning Authority as permission for their installation has already been granted in advance by the government.

Residents react after growing frustration over 'ugly wooden poles'

Some residents have resorted to direct action over the wooden poles. In Hedon, East Yorkshire, a group of protestors parked their cars on a road where work was set to begin to prevent a lorry and trucks from broadband provider MS3 being able to park up themselves.

Resident Ray Duffill told the Yorkshire Post: “We’ve promised that MS3 will find it difficult to install poles wherever they go. I’ve lived in Hedon for 22 years and in that time there’s been some campaigns against big companies.

“But I think this has brought people out and into activity more than any of the others, it’s really wound people up. People feel powerless because the law’s on MS3’s side.

“We don’t really have any recourse to complain to stop this from happening. So we’re just trying to delay the works and make it as expensive for them as possible.”

30 mph and speed camera warning sign seen fixed to a telegraph pole

Protests have taken place across the country against the installation of the telegraph poles prompting residents to start a petition requiring planning permission for the large poles (Image credit: Getty Images)

Further protests took place in Stourport, Worcestershire where residents are fighting plans to install “appalling” 11-metre-high poles on their estate.

The Kidderminster Shuttle reported how the group believes the poles are unattractive and less effective than underground cables but were told the alternative is too expensive.

How can you sign the petition?

The petition states: “We want the Government to remove permitted development rights for telegraph poles, so telecommunications operators have to apply for permission to the Local Planning Authority (LPA) on any proposed installation and the LPA has to consult with affected residents before issuing permissions.”

It adds: “There is no requirement to consider alternatives (like underground cabling) or to inform residents of the installation, so no opportunity for them to engage. The first knowledge residents have of a pole installation is when it appears on their street.”

A previous petition with a similar aim was put forward but only garnered 7,864 signatures, short of the 10,000 votes needed to receive a response from Parliament.

Sam Webb

Sam is based in Coventry and has been a news reporter for nearly 20 years. His work has featured in the Mirror, The Sun, MailOnline, the Independent, and news outlets throughout the world.  As a copywriter, he has written for clients as diverse as Saint-Gobain, Michelin, Halfords Autocentre, Great British Heating, and Irwin Industrial Tools. During the pandemic, he converted a van into a mini-camper and is currently planning to convert his shed into an office and Star Wars shrine.