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Concerns have been raised over a relaxation in government planning policy, which enables broadband providers to deploy cables and telegraph poles without consultation.

Ministers have been freed up to fast-track the rollout of broadband - through the deployment of street cabinets and other infrastructure - for at least the next five years.

However, campaigners believe the policy change could allow broadband providers to destroy rural beauty spots.

Neil Sinden, Policy and Campaigns Director at the Campaign to Protect Rural England, warned that the code does not have "sufficient teeth" to prevent long lengths of new overhead lines and broadband cabinets "blotting our finest landscapes and villages".

"Overhead lines can have a major impact if poorly sited, and should be put on shared poles before new ones are put up. But the guarantees to ensure that local councils can insist on this look weak," he stated.

"We call on the industry to work closely with planners and parish councils and recognise that clutter-free landscapes are no less critical to economic prosperity than super-fast broadband."

In response, the government said it recognised the concerns put forward regarding the potential impact on visual amenity, and how broadband providers would ensure the siting and appearance of apparatus was handled sensitively.

However, the coalition confirmed it will be proceeding with the proposals as outlined in the consultation document, by bringing forward amendments to regulations that relax the deployment restrictions.

Broadband providers will not be able to deploy infrastructure in any Site of Special Scientific Interest without prior permission.

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