Government to tackle illegal roadside ads

The Government is to crack down on roadside billboards in an attempt to stem the growth of illegal posters.

Ministers will issue new guidelines to local authorities, urging them to remove unauthorised posters after complaints that they are being used by companies such as Tesco, McDonald's and KFC.

The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, which is responsible for planning law, said: "We are working on new regulations to control outdoor advertising and intend to consult on them."

The Government has written to all local planning authorities to remind them of their powers to deal with ads sited in fields alongside motorways and trunk roads.

However, ministers have rejected green campaigners' demands to impose a legal duty on councils to enforce planning controls.

The Campaign to Protect Rural England wants to stop the spread of large illegal advertising hoardings next to roads. It estimates there are now about 900 such hoardings, often more than ten feet tall, across England - equivalent to one for every three miles of major road.

The CPRE welcomed the prospect of new regulations but was disappointed that the Government would not be bringing in a new legal duty.

Henry Oliver, its head of planning, said: "It is not enough to remind landowners of the penalties they face. Government targets don't measure enforcement."