Openreach has appointed contractors to install fibre cables throughout the Grange as part of its programme of FTTP (‘Fibre to the Premises’) enhancement of broadband services, which Openreach has been publicising recently.
The fibre cables replace the original copper telephone cables and will generally follow the same routes. Many properties in the Grange host telephone poles in their gardens and the contractors will be seeking access to enable them to run the new fibre cables to those poles, on which new fibre junction boxes will be fitted, alongside the original junction boxes for the copper cables. This will require the new fibre cables to be run underground, through the same ducts that carry the existing telephone cables, from the street to each pole in a garden.
If the contractors are unable to route the fibre through the same duct, or if the property owner declines permission for them to do so, the contractors will erect a new pole in the street and connect the fibre overhead from that to the original pole in the garden.
Openreach is a ‘statutory undertaker’ and enjoys ‘permitted development rights’ that exempt it from the need to gain planning permission for developments, including new telegraph poles and overhead cables. The relevant legislation is the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1997, which has been updated by the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (Scotland) Amendment Order 2017. This includes (Schedule 1, part 20) ‘development by electronic communications code operators’ granting exemption from the need to gain planning permission in most areas (Section 67). This exemption does not apply in defined protected areas, including conservation areas (67 (2)), but it is permitted if the development:
• (67 (2) (e)) Would consist of the installation, alteration or replacement of telegraph poles or the installation of overhead line on telegraph poles…..
Thus, Openreach is not required to seek planning permission for new poles in the Grange. However, despite not requiring planning approval, Openreach does operate its own complaints and appeals process. New telegraph poles have notices fixed to them inviting complaints to be addressed to:
BT Pole Objection Team
6th floor, Lancaster House
Old Hall Street
Liverpool L3 9PY
Complaints must be submitted within 12 months of installation of the new pole.