A bus shelter with an illuminated digital billboard

Campaigners’ Horror as 86 New Digital Billboards Planned for Bristol 

An advertising company has entered planning applications for 86 digital billboards across Bristol, campaign group Adblock Bristol have discovered. 

A map created by Adblock shows the proposed digital screens in locations from Southmead hospital in the north to Knowle in the south, and from Ashton Gate in the west to Fishponds in the east.

Adblock are used to objecting to individual planning applications for new billboards but this latest assault on Bristol’s public spaces came as a surprise for the sheer volume of applications and the group are appealing for public support to object to the new proposals. 

Read more: First two of 86 new digital billboard applications approved

The company behind the applications, Clear Channel UK, already owns multiple billboards across Bristol and some of the new applications are to replace existing non-digital billboards with digital ones. 

In their application, Clear Channel say that whilst they intend to install or upgrade 86 new screens they will also remove 423 older advertising sites, thus delivering a net reduction in advertising space in the city. 

However, digital billboards are known to be far more intrusive and to have a significant climate impact, with each one consuming the energy of four homes each year. 

Research by Adblock Bristol has shown the effect billboards have on local residents, many of whom report feeling a loss of pride in where they live due to the presence of advertising. The position of billboards and digital screens is also noted for being much higher in less affluent areas, with areas like Clifton rarely being targeted by advertising companies. 

Clear Channel also claim that the billboards will bring revenue to the city and that they will switch off between midnight and 5am. Bristolians remain unconvinced, however, and in March made 380 objections to a new billboard on Cheltenham Road. 

How you can help

Adblock offer the following step-by-step guide to objecting to the current proposals: 

> Go to the council’s planning portal 

> Click: Search for planning applications

> use Adblock’s map to find an application near you (click on a pin to find the planning reference number that you can search for using the planning portal)

> Click ‘Make A Comment’

> Type your objection. Adblock recommend that you state that you are objecting to all of the 86 proposed screens owing to their cumulative impact, as well as the individual one you’re objecting to.

> The council can reject the application on the grounds of road safety, for instance if the billboards will distract drivers, and amenity, which means the look and feel of the area. It’s best to focus your objection on these themes. 

> You can also explain what this development would mean to you and how it would affect your life. For example, if you use the bus network, cycle or drive past bus stops, or live near one.

This news follows just days after the announcement of a planned third digital billboard on the M32 overpass. Adblock Bristol are campaigning to remove the existing two M32 billboards

Clear Channel hold the city-wide bus shelter advertising concession agreement with Bristol City Council, a contract to install and maintain advertising space in the city’s bus shelters. 

Feature image: Adblock Bristol.

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