Improving our digital infrastructure a priority – Hazzard

Date published: 05 September 2016

Infrastructure Minister Chris Hazzard today met with mobile operator Three to be briefed on their plans for investment in the North.

Minister Chris Hazzard with Simon Miller from Three
Minister Chris Hazzard with Simon Miller from Three

Chris Hazzard said:

“A high class digital infrastructure is vital to improving connectivity across the North. This meeting with the major mobile operator Three, afforded me the opportunity to discuss the crucial role my Department can play in supporting the delivery of this infrastructure.

“This is a key time for mobile operators here. They are upgrading their networks, both to deploy new 4G superfast mobile broadband and to enhance existing 2G and 3G services.  Improving our digital infrastructure not only benefits the North’s economy but promotes social inclusion and is important in the delivery of public services.

“I want to facilitate appropriate proposals which deliver a high level of digital connectivity but also ensure that amenity and wider environmental safeguards are in place.

“I am listening carefully to stakeholders and considering their views to the recent public consultation on changes to permitted development rights for telecommunication operators. This is all shaping my plans for legislative change which will enhance the ability of operators to undertake smaller scale development without the need for planning permission. This will speed up necessary works such as replacing, altering or extending an existing mast or installing antenna on a mast or building.

“As we look ahead and prepare for future generations, we need to be innovative and creative in our thinking. Developing our digital infrastructure will improve connectivity across the North and connect people and opportunities. The draft Programme for Government sets out a plan to build a better future for us all and improving our digital infrastructure is key to this.”

Notes to editors: 

  1. In Northern Ireland, the Planning (General Permitted Development) Order (NI) 2015 (S.R. 2015 No. 70) sets out what type of development can be undertaken without requiring a planning application. These are referred to as permitted development rights and often relate to works that have minor impact to neighbours and on the environment.
  2. The public consultation on a review on permitted development rights which closed on 30 June can be viewed at
  3. The proposals to extend permitted development rights will reduce the number of planning applications that need to be submitted for generally minor works. This will contribute to further streamlining the planning system and ensure that it concentrates resources on those applications that require detailed examination.
  4. For mast and antenna development, notice is to be given to the owner of the land (if that owner is not also the operator) of the development. In the case of the installation, alteration or replacement of an antenna, notice is also to be given to the planning authority and is to be accompanied by a declaration that the development is designed to be in full compliance with the requirements of the radio frequency public exposure guidelines of the International Commission on Non-ionising Radiation Protection (ICNIRP).
  5. All media queries should be directed to the Department for Infrastructure Press Office on 028 9054 0007. Out of hours please contact the duty press officer via pager number 076 9971 5440 and your call will be returned.   
  6.  Follow the Department on Twitter @deptinfra.

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