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Villagers in Poulshot Block BT from Building New Poles for “Fibre Broadband”

Friday, May 26th, 2017 (2:26 pm) - Score 4,558

Residents in the village of Poulshot (Wiltshire) reportedly used their cars to block an Openreach (BT) contractor after they began erecting 5 new telegraph poles for superfast broadband in a conservation area, which a local Parish council chairman said was done without prior consultation.

The Gazette and Herald quotes council chairman Geoff Collett as saying that the Parish, which had allegedly not been consulted by either BT or the county council, owned the green and the “poles would be a terrible eyesore.” At present only part of the village has access to superfast broadband and Openreach’s work involved extending this to the remaining areas.

Installing telegraph poles can often be significantly cheaper than running the cables underground (a contractor said the cables underground could cost upwards of £200,000 but the poles would cost about £2,000), although residents would apparently still prefer the latter.

A Spokesperson for Openreach said:

“We’re aware of the concerns in Poulshot about our work to provide superfast broadband access to the village. We have asked our contractor to pause this work while we liaise with the local authority to address these concerns.”

A Wiltshire Council Spokesman said:

“Having been notified of this issue and the local concern, we spoke to the contractors and asked that they stop the work they were doing pending a thorough review of their plans for that area. We have updated the local community on this matter and will continue to do so.”

The catch is that by forcing this issue the cost of deployment could make the work too expensive to complete, which would leave part of the village at a distinct disadvantage.

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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63 Responses
  1. GNewton says:

    Why isn’t micro-trenching being considered here as an option?

    1. FibreFred says:

      Why isn’t refraining from trolling a BT article being considered?

    2. Steve Jones says:

      Who says it hasn’t been? Although micro-trenching is really for roads and tarmac paths, not for greens.

      Without knowing what the exact alternatives are, then it’s impossible to make any informed point about this.

    3. GNewton says:

      @Steve Jones: By the looks of it this seems to be wide grass verge. I’d think that it is still easier to do some trenching there than on difficult urban sidewalks, BT’s cost estimate are between £200,000 to £300,000, this is a wide range, and in either case much higher when compared to other rural FTTP projects, hence my question whether alternative options have been considered.

    4. MikeW says:

      Is micro-trenching a good option for BT at all?

      BT’s prior experience has taught them to prefer larger ducting, with a preference for straight lines between chambers.

      That prior experience favours the gains in the multi-decade maintenance period, rather than the immediate installation period. The larger ducting enables future flexibility … at the expense of initial installation cost.

      The question is … can 90mm ducting be put in place with micro-trenching tools? If not, then you probably have your answer as to why micro-trenching isn’t being used by BT (here or elsewhere).

    5. AndyH says:

      Would BT be allowed to microtrench?

      This would basically stop all PIA access to areas without ducting/poles.

  2. Adam says:

    Seriously what is there problem, just deal with it and accept the poles to get faster internet.

    How much money has this village wasted already by doing this ?

  3. DTMark says:

    “a contractor said the cables underground could cost upwards of £200,000 but the poles would cost about £2,000”

    Are these poles thirty miles apart?

    1. ductandpole says:

      Without considering the cost of road closures etc, digging a real trench and installing standard telecoms ducting is probably between £80-120 per meter.. so presumably at least 1.6 km 🙂

    2. GNewton says:

      @Mark: There might be other options for this village, hence my initial question.

    3. AndyH says:

      @ GNewton

      Don’t you think the other options have been evaluated? If it’s uneconomical, then you are faced with the choice of do you want superfast broadband or not?

      Any telecom company would prefer ducted over overground. The big problem is the cost.

  4. dragoneast says:

    It’s not an uncommon problem. We seem to have a developed a chocolate-box view of history, that greens and commons are historic landscapes which have to be kept as they are. Of course that was never the case in the past when they were created. But we all make up our own version of history to suit our narrative don’t we?

    Our punishment for the laissez faire view of planning we’ve taken elsewhere is that conservation areas have been made fossilised.

    I’m not sure that micro-trenching on soft ground on publicly accessible open space is quite such a good idea though?

    1. New_Londoner says:

      The parish council doesn’t have oversight of planning decisions, should be monitoring planning applications if it wants to comment.

      In the case of poles, I’m not sure if planning permission is needed at present anyway, I’m pretty sure they’re covered by deemed consent so it’s just a case of notifying the planning authority (district council?) and waiting a month in case it has any comments. Perhaps someone should explain the planning process to the parish council.

      In the meantime get the local constabulary to tow the cars away and get on with it. In the words of one regular poster here JFDI!

    2. gerarda says:

      It’s not planning permission Openreach needs but owners permission. The Parish Council own the green.

    3. wireless pacman says:

      The key words here might be “conservation area”.

    4. GNewton says:

      @wireles pacman: According to the local Gazette and Herald:

      “Wiltshire councillor Jonathon Seed, whose ward includes Poulshot, said: “It is outrageous that BT has begun this work without any consultation. This is a conservation area and any cables need to go underground. The way BT is using its powers to do this is unlawful. Wiltshire Council is not in any way to blame.””

      A proper cost estimate for the village fibre broadband should have taken these facts into account. It may well become uneconomic to proceed with this project.

    5. MikeW says:

      It might not actually be unlawful, even in a conservation area.

      Didn’t the government relax the rules on planning permission for poles for broadband? For a 5 year period, IIRC. To make it easier to extend the reach of high-speed internet, funnily enough.

      When the owner is a government body of some form, I’m not sure that BT needs the “owner’s permission” specifically. Surely, like a highway or verge, their right of access to “someone else’s property” for such public bodies is enshrined in law and the electronic code.

    6. MikeW says:

      Looking at the 2013 proposals, it seems the old restrictions were left in place for SSSIs.

      For conservation areas, world heritage sites, AONB and national parks, and anywhere else, the rules for siting poles and cabinets were changed to be considered deemed consent, but with care and discussion with the planning authority (not the parish council) for conservation areas and world heritage sites.

      The rule that effectively required prioritization to going underground was also to be removed.

      It does suggest that if the site is a particularly sensitive part of the conservation area, then the operator should consider underground.

      The justification given? To reduce the cost of civil engineering works to code operators, not just BT. All in order to make super fast broadband more widespread.

      So it seems lawful. Just depends, then, on discussions with county planners.

    7. gerarda says:


      At https://www.ournetwork.openreach.co.uk/altering-our-network/obtaining-your-wayleaves.aspx Openreach indicate they need an agreement with the land owner.

    8. MikeW says:

      Verges and roads don’t need wayleaves, but are owned by someone. What is it about that ownership that avoids the need for wayleaves?

      What is it about this green that makes it different from a verge?

    9. gerarda says:


      Town and Village Greens are defined and protected in law. The erection of any
      structure is unlawful unless it is with the aim of improving the enjoyment of the green.

  5. CarlT says:

    See what happens. Urban taxpayers delivered to under the commercial programme should all be delighted if the plant goes underground for no reason other than because villagers consider poles an eyesore – your taxes at work subsidising preservation of village greens.

  6. Ultraspeedy says:

    “….poles would cost about £2,000”

    Anyone know the cost per pole to know how many would be on the green?

  7. Daniel Spurr says:

    How does this not erk people seeing these rurals turning away broadband services that those of us in cities can’t get.

  8. jonathan roberts says:

    high chance they could be in the 4.9 millin adults tgat have never been on the internet 😉

  9. Tom Bartlett says:

    Not surprised BT doesn’t mind trashing the countryside, just to save money.

    1. Kits says:

      The economics of what they are asking is perhaps going to take too much money out of the budget. Remember that small hamlets and villages are being funded from taxpayers which is meant to try and conect as many as possible. If using poles means another three small hamlets can get fibre then that should be the way. It would cause more outrage if many missed out on fibre due to the costs of a few. If they wish to not use poles then are they willing to cofund the fiber to be placed under ground. Secondly are they even willing to allow the green to be dug up to take the shortest route.

    2. CarlT says:

      Indeed. Unspoiled countryside does merit saving.

      I can’t say I equate complaining about ‘unsightly’ poles in an area where the countryside was already trashed and replaced with manicured grass, likely of minimal biodiversity, with countryside though.

    3. Steve Jones says:

      There is, of course, a price to be paid for saving the countryside, and it’s a reasonable principle to want to preserve it. However, the corollary of this is that people must be prepared to pay the higher price for it. The obvious point here is if there is a substantially higher cost then less can be done. Perhaps if those who will benefit and want to protect their local environment should cover the excess.

    4. dragoneast says:

      The trouble I suspect is those that want to “protect” their environment and those that would benefit from the faster broadband aren’t the same people!

    5. Tom Bartlett says:

      I wouldn’t want to make assumptions about other people, but why wouldn’t they mind digging across the green? Turfing is easy.

  10. Fastman says:

    interesting !!!!

  11. James says:

    Never seen that before..

  12. wireless pacman says:

    5 poles at say 50m spacing is ish 250 metres. 250 metres at say £50/metre is £12,500 for ducting. Quite a leap from there to £200k.

    1. CarlT says:

      Assuming duct can follow the same path the pole route would.

      If these guys complained about 5 poles going up can you imagine their thoughts on Openreach actually digging that green. They’ll likely expect mole ploughing for the entire stretch, or for Openreach to take an alternative route.

      That said £200k is likely an exaggeration.

      I wouldn’t be that surprised if the verge surrounding the green were public land and Openreach have every right to construct there, but facts aren’t necessarily that high on a parish councillor’s priorities when dealing with their constituents, who likely double as friends and/or colleagues.

    2. AndyH says:

      The is the same Parish Council that was complaining about the slow broadband speeds and pushing Wiltshire Council to be included in their BDUK project.

      Probably also worth mentioning that the Parish Council also approved the tarmacing of part of the village green for a new housing development.

    3. GNewton says:

      @AndyH: “the Parish Council also approved the tarmacing of part of the village green for a new housing development.” So how does new housing estate get it fibre broadband?

    4. AndyH says:

      It doesn’t? They locals turned away the BT contractors.

  13. Peter Morgan says:

    The poles are £425+VAT each which would be £2125.00. That’s probably were they got the £2,000 figure from. It doesn’t really account for any issues that might be encountered in sinking the poles nor the cost of the fibre tubing & splicing work etc.

  14. Fastman says:

    if they are deploying poles that suggests the cable is direct in Ground which is why new poles have been determined (its likely that the cable is in the carriage way and therefore the cost differential versus deployment of poles would be the difference of getting built or deploying premises somewhere else

    1. MikeW says:

      This is the important point.

      It doesn’t matter whether the underground cost was really £200,000. All that matters is the actual amount is likely to mean some other village gets the funding instead of Poulshot.

      It is likely to be a take-it-or-leave-it decision.

    2. Tom Bartlett says:

      If thats how BT operates I would leave it.

    3. TheFacts says:

      @Tom – how would you decide what to do?

    4. Tom Bartlett says:

      I wouldn’t, I’d let the landowner/parish decide.

  15. Fastman says:

    Tome there will be cost cap to deploy a structure as part of programme if that is above that cost cop and it not many premises and I think here we are only talking about 30 – 40 in this instance then it is likely it will ,fall out of the programme and somewhere else in the county will be done for the same premises / Cost — — its about Value for money, home passed and Speed profile) so if there is somewhere else that meets the same or better then that how it might fall out

  16. Stuart Andrews says:

    Poulshot,not far from me, a fleapit place,nothing special about it.
    Already has quite a few BT poles scatted around the area in question, just look on Google Maps.
    The snobs there will complain about anything they don’t like,feel sorry for the geniune locals.

  17. Stuart Andrews says:

    Tom Bartlett & others:

    There was an inquiry regarding ownership of the green way back in 1984.
    No one had the Freehold for it, or could give inoformation as to ownership.


    Here another link: http://www.poulshot.org.uk/village-green/

  18. TheFacts says:

    There is a FTTC cab (Seend 2) at the junction with Barley Hill Lane. 3 new poles heading south and location for 4 more marked in the road. Further down the road there is FTTP cable coiled up on poles. Safe to assume the new poles are to connect these properties to the world.

  19. timeless says:

    strikes me that the main ppl who complain about new polls or bt boxes either dont have broadband and arent going to ever be interested or feel they dont need faster so *** everyone else.

    the way l see it a 5 poles is much better than digging up their allegedly picturesque views because it will involve less digging up of land, not to mention a few cables and large logs isnt going to change the view much imho.

    1. Tom Bartlett says:

      I wouldn’t blame them for not wanting to use the internet after what has been written about them here.

    2. AndyH says:

      What was written about them here? Was it really that terrible?

      All that was being done was erecting some telephone poles, on a small grassy area that is only metres from where there are other telephone poles.

    3. Tom Bartlett says:

      Stuart Andrews calling them snobs is the most obvious.

    4. AndyH says:

      This is an anonymous public comment board…

      I was referring to the actual article and what was written there.

      If the locals don’t want the poles, then Wiltshire Council should just reallocate the funding elsewhere to people that actually want better broadband.

    5. gpmgroup says:

      Humans make a big impact on the earth but they shouldn’t think the earth is there just for them. The constant push for growth means more and more of the earth gets built up and industrialized which leads to each generation gets less natural environment and more built environment.

      When most people go on holiday they want to go somewhere that is beautiful if you look at the most beautiful places they are often the one with the least human impact. If people are willing to invest their time and energy improving the natural environment it should be welcomed and encouraged.

    6. dragoneast says:

      I’m all in favour of protecting the natural environment, so let’s get rid of our private cars and stop extending our houses, and flying for pleasure. After all all those cause far more damage to the natural environment than the erection of a few poles. Um . . . Protecting the environment is fine as long as it supports our money-making. Or even, perhaps, preferably is a means to that end.

    7. GNewton says:

      @Tom Bartlett: Unfortunately you will find that a small minority of posters (such as hardcore BT fans) here keep calling names on other posters, or on other people in general, simply because others may have a different opinion. This ISPReview site has website rules for a reason, see http://www.ispreview.co.uk/rules.shtml

    8. gpmgroup says:


      Couldn’t agree more on the big issues, but even small impacts shouldn’t be underestimated https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y97rBdSYbkg

    9. TheFacts says:

      So we have given up on discussing the topic and reverted to discussing posters like Carpetburn and GNewton. Again.

    10. GNewton says:

      @TheFacts: You are welcome to send a complaint to this site owner if you think posters have offended you.

      Coming back to the actual topic: What are your thoughts on how to resolve the issue between the villagers and BT’s plan to erect telecom poles on the village green? Do you know of any good compromise solution?

    11. CarlT says:

      Obvious solution: spend taxpayers’ money elsewhere.

      From what was previously mentioned it seems like the taxpayer was going to be subsidising a broadband solution superior to virtually all urban areas.

      If these villagers don’t desire this take the money and spend it elsewhere, where it can deliver value.

      Alternatively this community should feel more than welcome to pay for any excess costs themselves.

      No compromise. If they don’t like it they can pay for the alternatives themselves, much as those of us in the urbane metropolitan elite have to pay our own bills and then some.

    12. CarlT says:

      Mr Bartlett: Given the locals were quite happy to confront and obstruct BT contractors trying to do their job because they took exception to poles being placed I doubt they’ll be that bothered by the comments on ISP Review.

      Mr Newton: Your attempt to then take the moral high ground having directly insulted other people contributing here was entertaining. It’s good to see you continue to not let any opportunity to have a dig either at others here or BT go by. It’s a constant in an unstable and ever-changing world, so thank you.

  20. Fastman says:

    there are 2 ways this is likley to end either a solution will either by found (normally by the community seeing sense and letting Openreach carry on) or the project will be stopped indefinitely permernantly

  21. Matt says:

    Stories like this are great for when someone moans about “why haven’t I got good broadband, is it because I’m rural”

    I have one message to those who live rurally, choose what you want…,

    Lovely views and peaceful days and nights or broadband… personally I say you get one.

    The fact that many of you get the option to meet in the middle or actually better then the middle is lucky.

    If I ever get the option to live rurally, I will expect not too get good broadband, if at all,

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