Posted on 2 Comments

Taller Mobile Phone Masts?

Is the relaxation of Permitted Development Rights (PDRs) the right way forward to support the deployment of 5G and extend mobile networks?

Report by Friends of the South Downs Policy Officer, Victor Ient

After some considerable research using my own telecommunications experience, updated by consulting engineers currently working in the mobile sector, I have submitted, on behalf of the Society, our opposition to the relaxation of permitted development rights to allow the unregulated installation of many more and taller* mobile phone masts in Areas of Special Landscape Importance including national parks. We believe there is a viable alternative to just simply relaxing the rules. We have put forward a 6 point plan for a less obtrusive deployment to the Government in our submission to the public consultation. Click here to see a copy of what we said: Response to PDRs

*The current restriction on the height of the masts is set at 82ft (25m) but it could be doubled to 165ft (50m) — almost exactly the same height as Nelson’s column.

Telecommunications Clutter in the Countryside

Unfettered development of masts in protected areas will be a disaster for our beautiful countryside. What is the point of providing the highest planning protection for National Parks when the area could be littered with telecommunications clutter?  Keeping the planning rules as they are would ensure mobile operators would effectively have to comply with the purposes of the National Parks and protected landscapes.

Lack of Mobile Strategy in the Countryside

Sadly, the government has not previously put forward a strategy for the provision of mobile telecommunications in the countryside.  Many of the problems of the 1980s, when mobile base stations were first deployed, still exist today.  Figures differ, but it is quite clear that there are many areas where 4G is currently not available.

Posted on Leave a comment

Further expansion of the Boomtown Festival proposed!

Matterley Estate: the festival site in the South Downs National Park, east of Winchester – this photo links to the Daily Telegraph article published on 18th January 2020

A new planning application has been submitted to increase the number of festival goers. The Friends of the South Downs will be submitting their comments soon but for now this post is to advise you on how to make your comments to the South Downs National Park Authority (SDNPA).

The current closing date for responses is the 14th Feb 2020 – see how to respond as below.

In 2016, a three-year temporary permission was granted, at the same time increasing the number of days, number of attendees and noise levels. The planning committee granted a temporary permission in order to monitor and assess the effect of Boomtown and its increasing size over the years 2017, 2018 and 2019. Then, last year the Planning Committee of SDNPA  granted a further six years temporary planning permission (December 17th 2019) under reference SDNP/18/06249/FUL with increased levels of attendance at 64,999. Within days Boomtown applied for increased number by 11,000 under reference SDNP/19/06160/CND.

If you wish to comment on this application please go to:

Then enter in the search box: SDNP/19/06160/CND   You will then be taken to the actual planning application page.  Here you can either click on ‘Comments’ or click on ‘Documents’. Under the documents you will see all the application docs.

To comment click on ‘Comments’ and then click on the ‘Make a comment’ tab.

Please refer to planning application number SDNP/19/06160/CND 

Alternatively you can email:

This is a summary of the application:

SDNP/19/06160/CND | Variation of Condition 2 of Planning Consent SDNP/18/06249/FUL. | Matterley Farm Alresford Road Ovington Alresford Hampshire SO24 0HU






Posted on Leave a comment

The Agricultural Bill – major changes for farming and the environment!

Major changes will take 7 years to implement!

Report by Friends of the South Downs Policy Officer Victor Ient


The UK’s new Agriculture Bill has been called “one of the most significant pieces of legislation for farmers in England for over 70 years,” says Judith Tsouvalis* and Ruth Little* on The Conversation website. They continue  ‘It could directly affect the livelihoods of 460,000 people and determine the future of the 70% of UK land area (17.4 million hectares) currently under agricultural management. The bill sets out the UK’s approach to farming as it prepares to leave the European Union, replacing the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) that the UK has been part of since 1973’.

Where are we now? 

Whichever side you’re on, Brexit is now happening and that means the government has to put into UK legislation replacements for agricultural and environment policy which the UK signed up to over the years since the 1970s. Quite a task!  The government introduced the legislation in 2018 but it was withdrawn because the Brexit Bill had not been passed. Now, the Bill has had its ‘first reading’ in the House of Commons (this was without debate and passed through on 16 January 2020). The next stage will be for the Bill to have its ‘second reading’ (no date yet agreed) and then proceed to the House of Lords and eventually to receive the Royal assent and pass into law.

What are the changes? 

The Bill will replace the way the government manage and fund agriculture and the associated environment. In the EU this is via the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

The new agricultual bill could be good for wildlife, bees and other pollinators in the countryside!

In the future, landowners will in future be paid to produce “public goods”. These are things that can benefit everyone but bring no financial reward to those who produce them. Examples are as better air and water quality, higher animal welfare standards, improved access to the countryside or measures to reduce flooding. In doing so the aim is to move the UK one step closer towards ‘a future where farmers are properly supported to farm more innovatively and protect the environment’.

Over the next seven years, farmers will move from the CAP regulations to a new system of Environmental Land Management (ELM). This will detail the terms and conditions under which farmers and land managers will receive funding.

In a notable change from the Bill published in 2018, the government will now provide support for farmers to improve the management of their soil, as recommended in CPRE’s report, ‘Back to the land’.  A major step forward! The government will reward farmers who protect and improve soil quality with measures like crop rotation, and give ministers new powers to regulate fertiliser use and organic farming. As Judith Tsouvalis and Ruth Little say, “Landscape-scale solutions to decarbonising agriculture and averting the climate crisis will require huge changes. They won’t be possible without popular support”.

What is not covered in the Bill?

With the EU legislation farmers in this country could rely upon protection against  substandard and cheap produce from outside the EU. This Bill provides no cover for such issues.

In the EU programmes of expenditure are agreed on a long-term basis, – usually a five-year programme. In other words the finances are fixed for a set period. Rarely have the UK government used long term financial planning principles. On the other hand the EU does have stable plans in all major policy areas. Such mid and long term planning is based on the Precautionary Principle.  It will be interesting to find out how the UK government proposes to replace the CAP subsidies for farming which amount to £3bn a year. This figure includes direct and indirect subsidies as reported by the FT.

* Judith Tsouvalis is a member of the joint DEFRA-Natural England Expert Panel on Social Science Evidence for Improving Environmental Land Management Outcomes. Ruth Little is a qualitative social scientist specialising in agricultural and food-related research. She is a lecturer in Geography at the University of Sheffield and works at the Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs.