Last month it was announced that advertising company Clear Channel had submitted plans for 86 new digital billboards in the city’s bus shelters.
Yesterday, the first two of those billboards were granted permission by council planning officers.
Both applications were opposed by residents. One, on a bus stop behind Primark, received 9 objections whilst the second, on Gloucester Road in Bishopston, received 15 objections.
Adblock Bristol have campaigned to gather objections to the proposals and have developed a map so that people can find the application nearest them and object to it.
Speaking for Adblock, Veronica Wignall, said: ‘Clear Channel says they’re decluttering the city and a small number of their new ad units even provide a reverse side which can supposedly be used for art. But in reality, they receive a much greater profit from digital screens – this isn’t about communities, it’s about profit-making.’
The new screens will replace existing paper adverts with digital screens, which will display different adverts on a 10 second rotation.
Under planning regulations, new billboards can only be refused permission if they pose a danger to public safety or if they damage the amenity, or look and feel, of the area.
The officers reports for the two digital billboard applications find that, because they simply replace existing paper adverts, these proposals are in keeping with the amenity of the area and will not increase the risk of traffic incidents.
Charlotte Gage from Adblock Bristol, who lives in Easton near to one of the proposed new screens, said: ‘We want a less stressed out city with more space for nature, play and art, not more oppressive corporate advertising.’
A recent poll found that 46% of UK adults would like to see and hear fewer adverts in their day to day lives, such as while using public transport.
Adblock Bristol is calling for Bristol City Council to adopt a “no new billboards” policy due to the economic, environmental and social harms caused by advertising and digital screens in particular, with concerns including light pollution and the large amounts of energy required by the screens, estimated to be more than three times the average electricity usage of a UK home.
Earlier this month plans by another advertising company for a digital billboard on Cheltenham Road were abandoned after 400 objections were lodged.
A third company is seeking permission to install a third billboard above the M32 in St Werburgh’s. Adblock are campaigning against the plans and have advice for how others can do the same on their website.
Feature image: Adblock Bristol.