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Permission to install Sat/TV/radio aerials

Is a planning application required for your aerial?

Under the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995 (as amended) or Planning (General Development) Order (Northern Ireland) 1993 (as amended), you have a general permission to install an aerial up to a specific size on property without the need for planning permission. This general permission depends on your house type and area. The general permission doesn't necessarily apply in designated areas, which are:

  • Conservation areas
  • National Parks
  • Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty
  • The Norfolk or Suffolk Broads
  • World Heritage Sites

Your local planning authority can give you more advice.

Advice on good siting

When installing a dish or other aerial, you must position it in such a way so that its effect on the outside appearance of the building is reduced as far as possible. You must also remove it when you no longer need it.

You are responsible for:

  • Choosing the type of aerial
  • Positioning the aerial on the building or in the garden

When deciding on an aerial and where to position it, you should take into account its effect on neighbours, the public, and the environment. The retailer or installer may be able to give you advice on these matters.

Click here for Planning Portal guidance.

If there is any doubt, you should contact your local planning department.

Things to think about

For dish aerials, you should be aware of the importance of colour. For example, a white dish may blend against a white background but may be more obvious against darker backgrounds, such as brick, or stone.

The materials or the design can also affect how suitable a particular aerial is. For example, a mesh or transparent dish may be less obvious than a solid one.

Where you position the aerial on the property is perhaps the most important thing to bear in mind when considering installing one. Although it is important to make sure your aerial provides adequate reception, it is also important to consider the visual effect of your aerial.

  • An aerial mounted on the roof will be less noticeable than one mounted on a wall
  • Aerials on a wall at the back of the building will usually be less noticeable than on the front of the building
  • Aerials mounted close to the ground in the back garden will be less noticeable to neighbours than ones mounted on poles
  • Aerials hidden behind a parapet or a chimney stack may be less noticeable than one mounted on the wall

The consequences of poor positioning

If your planning department thinks your aerial is in a poor position and could reasonably be moved to make it less noticeable, they may ask you to move it (at your own expense). You would not have to apply for planning permission.

If you refuse this request, your planning department may:

  • Demand that you apply for planning permission (for which you must pay a fee) based on the fact that the aerial's effect on the outside appearance of the building has not been reduced as far as possible
  • Send you an enforcement notice demanding that you move the aerial

You are entitled to appeal if planning department refuses your application for planning permission, or sends you an enforcement notice. Reasons for an appeal could include that you think the chosen position of the aerial is appropriate, or that the measures you would need to take to move it are excessive, perhaps causing you unreasonable costs.

It is an offence not to follow an enforcement notice. You could have to pay a fine unless you have successfully appealed against it.

Choosing suppliers and installers

Suppliers and installers should be familiar with the planning and environmental aspects of installation.

We strongly advise you to get your aerial equipment from a reputable supplier, such as members of the Radio, Electrical and Television Retailers' Association (RETRA), other established companies or, where appropriate, from the broadcaster.

We also advise you to use installers who are members of the Confederation of Aerial Industries Limited (CAI) or other professionally qualified installers who follow an appropriate code of practice which follows Planning Inspectorate and the Department for Communities and Local Government's guidelines and the Planning Service for Northern Ireland's guidelines.

Reputable installers should have agreed standards for their work, in some cases, guaranteed by their company; they should also be covered by public liability and employer's liability insurance.

You should get quotes for alternative siting options and costs (such as installing at the back) before installing the aerial.

What is the law guide

The Desktop Lawyer law guide aims to present the law to you in a comprehensive yet jargon-free and easy-to-read format. Our law guide is constantly kept up to date with changes in business and family law by our team of in house solicitors, and includes information across all the legal jurisdictions in the UK.

Our law guide is free to use. Where we provide documents related to this area of law, or where they may help you with any legal issue in this area, they will be listed to the right of this message.