Headlines: October 29th, 2003

Local councils in Wales could lose their planning control powers over the installation of television satellite dishes. The Welsh Assembly Government has launched consultations on possible changes to current regulations.The review will look at the planning considerations that need to be taken into account when installing satellite dishes and other types of antennae. At present, householders are able to install satellite dishes and antennae on their homes, but restrictions apply on the location, number and size of equipment that is allowed. In some sensitive areas, planning permission may be required from the local authority.

The consultation paper, launched by the Assembly Minister for Environment, Planning and Countryside Carwyn Jones, seeks views on whether the current planning regime is unnecessarily restrictive and acts against consumer choice in having access to satellite and broadband services.

It includes options ranging from keeping the current arrangements to placing no restrictions on the number of antennae, their size or their exact location. Mr. Jones said it was important to have up-to-date planning regulations in place, which reflected the commitment to delivering equality of access to digital TV and broadband services across Wales.

It was equally important, he said, to ensure that any changes made as a result of the consultation kept the visual and environmental impact of dishes to a minimum, particularly in sensitive places such as National Parks and conservation areas.