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some drawings and send them in. Also

think carefully about what you want. Do

you really need everything you have or can

you consolidate? If so, now maybe the time

to plan to do so (but only after you have

established a base position).

Once you have a position, write to the

Enforcement Officer to explain what you think

doesn’t need permission and why. Or make

an appointment to have a pre-application

discussion with a Planning Officer (most

councils charge for this). Some councils

will be happy to deal with these issues in

correspondence, others may require a formal

Lawful Development Certificate application.

Once you have established a base position

then you may need to make a planning

application for further aerials, or for ones

that you have up and that need permission.

There’s good advice on the Planning

Inspectorate website


about that process.

Do not

be persuaded by the Enforcement

Officer to include in any planning application

aerials that are covered by the Four Year Rule

[1] or that otherwise do not need permission

(they may say ‘to tidy things up’). Remember

the PAC will help with advice as needed.

But please remember the golden rules:

• Don’t do anything in a panic – this

is a lengthy process and jumping up

and taking aerials down and making a

planning application at once is almost

certainly going to be counter productive.

• Don’t put your head in the sand and hope

it goes away – it won’t.

• Always maintain contact with the

Enforcement Officer, do what you say and

be cooperative (it’s better to have them on

your side as much as possible rather than

than against you).

• Don’t wait for an enforcement notice –

opportunities will have been lost if you do.

• Don’t seek to exact retribution for the

neighbour you suspect of ‘shopping’ you

– you may feel that they have done you all

the harm they can but (trust me) they have

several notches of causing trouble to go.

• Always have in mind that if permission

is needed and refused you still need to

be on the air. Which is why establishing

a permitted base point (see earlier) is so


It’s fair to say that most amateurs we help

achieve something close to what they want

as long as what they want is reasonable

given the size of house they own and the

size of the aerial. Getting there may not be

an easy journey – but taking it steadily and

following the rules will always help.



Why the Four Year Rule is your friend

, Stephen

Purser, GW4SHF,


Jan 2013 (see below)




March 2018


At the Planning Advice Committee stand at the

2012 Newark Hamfest the point most raised was

the Four Year Rule. So it seemed to make sense

to do a short piece for


to set out what

the Four Year Rule is and how it may affect you.

Put simply, the rule works like this. You put up an

aerial, mast or whatever and leave it in place and

unchanged for four years (you can take it down for

short periods for maintenance). So long as you can

satisfactorily demonstrate this, the aerial, mast etc

will normally be immune from enforcement and

the Council cannot require you to remove it under

planning law.


It follows from this that it is important to keep

evidence of the date on which you put the aerial

up. So always take some dated digital photos or

video and note in the log. Any other evidence you

can muster at this point – third party recollections

are helpful – may be useful later on. And then

carry on. Hopefully you’ll have many years of use

with no planning problems and all will be well. As

always, keeping on the best terms you can with

the neighbours is important.

Why the

FourYear Rule

is your friend

Reprinted from


January 2013

Consider talking to neighbours about your hobby.

Continued on page 91