Miller to bring in planning reforms to aid broadband rollout in the UK
The Government is looking to bring in new planning reforms to bypass local bureaucracy that is hindering faster broadband rollout, Maria Miller said.
“The government means business and we are determined to cut through the bureaucracy that is holding us back,” the new Culture Secretary Maria Miller, who replaced Jeremy Hunt in last week’s ministerial reshuffle said.
The Prime Minister David Cameron has publicly identified superfast broadband infrastructure as an integral part of a modern economy. The coalition government has an ambitious goal to have fastest broadband network in Europe by 2015.
However, despite £680 million being set aside to support faster broadband roll out across the country, there has been little progress. The new Culture Secretary, Maria Miller, who replaced Jeremy Hunt in the in the ministerial reshuffle last week, puts the blame squarely on local planning bureaucracy for hindering the process.
She pledged that is not acceptable and the Government will bring in legislation after a quick consultation to amend planning rules to aid broadband roll out. This would include controversial measures such as broadband infrastructure firms not requiring approval from local authorities to build broadband cabinets and install other infrastructure necessary for broadband rollout.
The Government will also consult on reducing the time to agree to install broadband infrastructure on private lands, the minister said.
“Superfast broadband is vital to secure our country’s future – to kick start economic growth and create jobs,” Miller added. “We are putting in the essential infrastructure that will make UK businesses competitive, and sweeping away the red tape that is a barrier to economic recovery.”
BT and Virgin Media, two of the largest internet service providers in the UK, welcomed the move. BT, earlier this year, ran into trouble with the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, when the local council rejected 96 out of the 108 broadband cabinets it wanted to build.
Without the approval, the whole plan to introduce faster broadband in the area had to be with drawn.
"BT is already rolling out fibre broadband at record pace but there are a variety of issues that can sometimes slow us down and cause frustration for those consumers and businesses who are keen to get fibre broadband," a BT spokesperson said. "We are pleased that the government acknowledges those barriers and also that they share our ambition that as many people as possible can benefit from the high speed fibre revolution."