Planning Chairman clarifies Council clamp down on roadside signage

The Chairman of The Highland Council’s Planning Environment and Development Committee has clarified the Council’s clampdown on roadside signage, stressing that the main targets for action are unauthorised adverts which are long-standing, those which have a substantial adverse impact on amenity and those that give rise to road safety concerns.

Councillor Thomas Prag stressed that short-lived signage promoting community events, which did not impact on road safety, were not the focus of the Service’s enforcement  action.

In a letter to a community council which raised concerns about recent enforcement action on signage, Councillor Prag wrote:  “The Council has become increasingly concerned about the number of ad-hoc unauthorised signs that have sprung up along the sides of roads and in fields bounding roads in the Highlands.  In some cases the signs are unsightly and detract from the amenity of the area.  In others they pose road and pedestrian safety issues - sometimes both.

“As a Service, we are acutely aware of the need to promote, support and carefully manage economic development within the Highlands, and this is always in the forefront of our minds as we conduct our responsibilities under the Planning Acts. But this must be balanced against our duty to ensure that advertisements are erected in accordance with long-standing advertisement regulations (they’ve been in place since 1984), particularly in relation to road safety.

“That said, we do have it within our power to decide which unauthorised advertisements to pursue at any given time (whether through direct action, the serving of a notice or reporting to the Procurator Fiscal) and we always aim to be pragmatic in how we approach this work. Broadly speaking, we are only targeting those unauthorised adverts which are long-standing, have a substantial adverse impact on amenity or give rise to road safety concerns.

“The suggestion that we are banning all roadside advertising is inaccurate and it is regrettable if that is what people are being lead to believe. In our recent pre-Christmas enforcement action, for example, we did not target temporary signs advertising community events or short-lived festive business, unless they posed a specific risk to road safety. This is generally how we conduct our enforcement work in relation to adverts. We also have to give the best part of a week’s notice before removing an unauthorised sign, and that period follows any period for detection in the first place. Thus, a sign that is only positioned for a week or two, and is not located within visibility splays or in such a way as it would adversely impact on road safety, is unlikely to be subject to enforcement action.”

28 Jan 2014