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To: Leeds City Council

No Digital Billboard on Westgate Otley

The planning application (23/02287/ADV) for a digital billboard on Westgate in Otley needs to be refused.

In fact, no more digital billboards should be approved in Otley or anywhere across the city, they are simply incompatible with the Climate Crisis that Leeds City Council has declared.

The one on Piper Lane should also be removed, as soon as possible.

Why is this important?

1. The proposed billboard is in the Otley Conservation Area (1) and thus completely out of character. According to Leeds City Council Planning Department “[conservation areas] are designated by the council, and protect the character and appearance of a whole area, not just its buildings.” “Stricter rules apply in conservation areas regarding the type and size of advertisements that can be erected…” (2)

2. The billboard will be situated in a place where numerous roads, drives and car parks adjoin the main road. This increases the likelihood of an accident caused by a distracted driver. The evidence suggests that digital billboards are more dangerous than standard paper ones (3).

3. They will be opposite a number of houses and flats, the residents of which have a right not to have their nights disrupted by the light generated by this installation.

4. The roads are a common, publicly-owned space that citizens (children, especially) should be free to walk, cycle or drive along without being bombarded by advertisements.

5. Otley Town Council, Leeds City Council, and the British government have all declared climate emergencies. A year of operation for one billboard may use as much energy as 37 UK homes (4). This doesn’t take into account the embedded carbon or materials, particularly rare-earth metals, that go into the construction of the billboards.

6. One of these billboards has recently been installed on Piper Lane in Otley, opposite housing, on a dangerous stretch of road, near a school. Local residents were rightfully furious about this. Sadly their campaign to have it removed fell on deaf ears. The reaction from residents to a further billboard on is likely to be similar.

7. Impact on wildlife - most birds migrate at night and can be drawn off course by artificial light. Artificial light may also alter songbird mating patterns - causing males to sing at different times and attracting females to perhaps poorer quality mates (5). Otley Town Council has also recently declared a Biodiversity Emergency and commissioned a Biodiversity Audit, this development would fly in the face of that declaration.

8. Leeds City Council has recently gone to great efforts to change most street lamps in Otley to LED bulbs. One of the key benefits of this is reduced light pollution. This effort will all be for nothing in the areas close to the proposed billboards.

9. Has a proper visual impact assessment been carried out? When active, these structures are visible from a great distance.

10. Precedent - a similar application has recently been rejected in Bristol on the following grounds: “The proposed advertisement, by virtue of its excessive size, illuminated nature and overall design, siting and appearance would represent a prominent and incongruous, poor quality, visually intrusive addition to the townscape which will detrimentally impact upon the character and appearance of streetscene and surrounding area.” (6)

11. There is nothing in the planning application asking the applicant to declare their environmental credentials, or the source of the materials that will be used to create the billboard. Given what we know about forced labour and the unethical sourcing of materials for electrical components, establishing the ethical procurement policies across the city is essential.

12. The applicant does highlight the environmentally destructive nature of traditional paper and paste biillboards (7). This is not an argument for replacing them with something else damaging to the environment, but a clear sign that their business is completely unsustainable and incompatible with the climate and biodiversity crises we face.


Otley, UK

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2023-05-02 08:02:54 +0100

100 signatures reached

2023-05-01 07:20:29 +0100

50 signatures reached

2023-04-30 17:46:48 +0100

25 signatures reached

2023-04-30 09:54:15 +0100

10 signatures reached