In the wake of vociferous lobbying from environmentalists, the government has backtracked on its proposal to liberalise rules banning poster sites and billboards in rural areas.

Speaking earlier this week in the House of Commons, deputy-prime minister John Prescott announced that - despite earlier intentions - the existing planning controls are to remain in place: "We will not change our rules, but will maintain our controls over advertisements in the countryside," he told Parliament.

According to junior environment minister Beverley Hughes, the government’s original proposal to relax extant regulations was drafted because local authorities had had failed to implement the required five-yearly reviews. Hughes argued that the status of some areas had changed over time and no longer needed special planning protection. "This is clearly an unsatisfactory state of affairs that needs to be addressed," she said.

The government has not completely abandoned the idea of liberalisation and will now instruct local councils to review whether the ban on posters in their areas is still necessary.

News source: CampaignLive (UK)