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Growth Plan Hints at Planning Changes to Boost Gigabit Broadband

Friday, Sep 23rd, 2022 (4:17 pm) - Score 2,544
Project-Gigabit-Funded-by-UK-Government

The UK Chancellor, Kwasi Kwarteng, has today published a new Growth Plan 2022, which proposes to “liberate the private sector” by encouraging investment (i.e. removing barriers to the flow of private capital) and boosting infrastructure by “liberalising the planning system and streamlining consultation and approval requirements“.

The CEO of CityFibre, Greg Mesch, was quick to welcome the Growth Plan 2022, which they hope might aid their rollout of full fibre broadband across Britain: “We are delighted the government has focused on rollout by announcing measures in the Growth Plan that will decrease the time, cost and disruption of delivering gigabit connectivity to homes and businesses across the country.”

However, the document itself only mentions the word “broadband” once, which reflects a proposed amendment to the existing Product Security and Telecommunications Infrastructure Bill (PSTI). The additional change would give “telecoms operators easier access to telegraph poles on private land, supporting the delivery of gigabit capable broadband” (most poles are on public land). But the specifics of this have yet to be revealed.

Just to give this some context. Openreach had previously complained that the PSTI didn’t go far enough with respect to telecoms poles and access to Multi-Dwelling Units (MDUs), because they haven’t been extended to “allow us to upgrade the infrastructure we have in place, either over the pole network or in those blocks of flats” (here).

Similarly, CityFibre had previously complained about running into issues with wayleaves (i.e. securing legal land / property access agreements), such as in Scotland where the operator noted that “there are a lot of poles sitting in people’s backyards” (private property). However, both Westminster and the Scottish Government will need to tread carefully here, since regular folk rarely like operators trampling over their personal gardens and poles are one of the least popular pieces of broadband infrastructure.

The plan also talks more generally about wider changes to the planning process, which may indirectly benefit the deployment of new mobile and broadband networks, but that will depend upon the detail. We’re also unsure whether this reflects some of the proposed changes under existing bills, which will only become clear once more detail is revealed.

Extract from the Growth Plan

The Growth Plan announces that new legislation will be brought forward in the coming months to address these barriers by reducing unnecessary burdens to speed up the delivery of much-needed infrastructure. This includes:

• reducing the burden of environmental assessments

• reducing bureaucracy in the consultation process

• reforming habitats and species regulations

• increasing flexibility to make changes to a DCO once it has been submitted.

The Growth Plan also announces further sector specific changes to accelerate delivery of infrastructure, including:

• prioritising the delivery of National Policy Statements for energy, water resources and national networks, and of a cross-government action plan for reform of the Nationally Significant Infrastructure planning system

• bringing onshore wind planning policy in line with other infrastructure to allow it to be deployed more easily in England

• reforms to accelerate roads delivery, including by consenting more through the Highways Act 1980 and by considering options for changing the Judicial Review system to avoid claims which cause unnecessary delays to delivery

• amendments to the Product Security and Telecommunications Infrastructure Bill to give telecoms operators easier access to telegraph poles on private land, supporting the delivery of gigabit capable broadband

The Growth Plan also sets out the infrastructure projects that the government will “prioritise for acceleration, across transport, energy and digital infrastructure“, although the list they give only mentions their own £5bn Project Gigabit programme (latest update) under the digital infrastructure label.

Finally, the plan states that the government “will set out its plans on how it will further support digital rollout to drive growth“, which suggests that they might make moves to further reduce barriers to the broadband rollout. On the other hand, this could just be a re-announcement of changes being developed under existing bills, so we’ll reserve our judgement until there are some concrete details.

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Mark-Jackson
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 X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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13 Responses
  1. Avatar photo Simon says:

    Poor mini budget today by the chancellor. Tories are FINISHED!

    1. Avatar photo John says:

      ??? What exactly was bad?

      Axed the planned global Biden corporate tax increases and Rishi Sunak’s planned national insurance tax hikes

      Cut income taxes for everyone

      Cut stamp duty land taxes for cheaper housing and especially for first home buyers

      If anything it doesn’t go far enough, but it is a very welcome start

    2. Avatar photo XGS_Is_On says:

      These tax cuts being unfunded at a time when the UK is running both big current account deficits and high inflation will do it, John.

      The money markets don’t make the cost of UK borrowing jump and the value of our currency drop against various other countries because they feel like it.

      This is massively risky. There’s very little evidence to support it.

    3. Avatar photo John says:

      The govt has made record tax revenue over the past few years. You leftists fail to realize that the govt works for the people, not the people working with the goal to feed a bloating state with more and more taxation that gets washed away as some form of corruption in Ukraine

      If people have more money in their pockets, then they will contribute more to the economy. Also the country markets itself as more attractive to investors and to immigrants

      This is proven and very basic economics, not the Marxist BS that gets taught in universities

    4. Avatar photo XGS_Is_On says:

      ‘the goal to feed a bloating state with more and more taxation that gets washed away as some form of corruption in Ukraine’

      Wibble.

      Not a leftist, just interested in how this is going to be paid for given spending is apparently going to be kept at current levels.

      Remind me how the Trump tax cuts went? Or the George W Bush ones? Must’ve made the economies rocket and swiftly paid for themselves? Oh, no, they just resulted in increased deficits, but those are fine when they’re the result of tax cuts, right?

      Tax cuts at the lower end result in more money sloshing around the economy. At the higher end proportionally more disappears either offshore or into savings. Added bonus: tax cuts increase inflation. Just what we need: a weaker currency and higher inflation.

      Not against tax cuts at all. Indeed I’m benefiting in quite a big way from today’s announcements given I’m an additional rate taxpayer, as I’m sure you must be given your comments, yes? However I’m equally against sending our kids the bill for lower taxes. Was done to my generation by the one above and isn’t right.

      Sorry if the concept of nuanced views or, indeed, fiscal responsibility are such a struggle. We should be borrowing for investment or when absolutely required, not ideological reasons, and should be following a conservative fiscal policy while things are so uncertain in the wider world.

    5. Avatar photo XGS_Is_On says:

      1 GBP = 1.08622 USD Sep 23, 2022, 19:20 UTC – 1.1878 this month, down over 3% for the day.
      1 GBP = 1.12162 EUR Sep 23, 2022, 19:22 UTC – has been at 1.187 in the past month and down 2% on the day.

      Damn leftist currency markets.

      10 year Gilt yield up over half a percentage point to 3.77% this week – has been below 3.2% this week.

      Damn leftist international sovereign debt markets.

      ‘The UK Debt Management Office increased its planned bond sales for the 2022-23 fiscal year by £62.4bn to £193.9bn.’

      It clear enough what my, sovereign debt traders’, and currency traders’ problem is? Unless you’re claiming they’re Marxist as well of course in which case you go from not having a clue to plain bonkers.

    6. Avatar photo John says:

      Not to worry, pandemic leads to war, and that is coming soon and I mean proper WW3 not some poor country being bullied by the west… it’s a depopulation method and after that, you can buy yourself a mansion for cheap with 1000 rooms… bigger than Buckingham palace!

      It will only get better, you can rid yourself of the climate emergency as well… well probably assuming you can survive the nuclear radiation.

    7. Avatar photo Me says:

      @Simon

      I am a hardened Tory and I agree the Tories are finished under Liz Truss

  2. Avatar photo John says:

    You call my argument a wibble but then conjure up a bunch of nonsense

    If you like taxes so much then why are you not donating your entire salary to the state? Or why are you not living in Lithuania or Portugal where income tax brackets of 50% start at the insane whopping amount of…. 30k

    Can you even explain how these high tax countries are not wonderful wealthy utopias? Taxes keep people in poverty. The proposed corporate tax would put a lot of altnets in trouble and it is a great thing that it has been scrapped. Bosses, employees and customers all benefit from not having more money stolen to the state, only you leftists throw tantrums about not paying more taxes (when you are free to do so, except that you always depend on other people’s money)

    1. Avatar photo Phil says:

      WW3 – nah that’s never gonna to happen!

  3. Avatar photo NE555 says:

    Returning to the subject of broadband…

    One of the obvious things would be mandatory access rights to replace existing copper connections with fibre. We’re in the ludicrous situation that people may have existing copper lines with ADSL or FTTC, but current building owners may refuse Openreach access to upgrade them to fibre – to the disadvantage of both the tenants and Openreach.

  4. Avatar photo Charles Smith says:

    A new cafe in our local park, in a World Heritage Site needed an Internet/phone connection at the end of last year. Openreach installed a copper pair (not fibre) strung across four roadside phone poles, plus a long overhead from the road pole to the cafe. In the process they managed to install a new orphan pole in the middle of the historic park, where it remains to this day. At the same time a trench was dug across the park for power cables to the cafe, for some reason Openreach didn’t consider using the cable trench.

    Let’s hope the softening of regulations doesn’t lead to further dumb installations across the country.

    1. Avatar photo Jonny says:

      If the people who built the cafe had engaged with Openreach and explained how they would like the feed underground they would have been provided with ducting to bury. Likewise if they wanted fibre they would have been able to pay for it. You can’t opt-out of talking to infrastructure providers and then get upset with the end result.

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