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Pickles to cut red tape that stops the public from flying flags

Eric Pickles today announced proposals to make it easier for people to fly flags of their choice without facing costly restrictions and red …

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Eric Pickles today announced proposals to make it easier for people to fly flags of their choice without facing costly restrictions and red tape. The moves are intended to boost England’s local and national identities and strengthen community cohesion.

Proposals set out today will allow a much wider range of flags to be flown without the need for planning permission. Under current planning rules, only a select few flags are allowed to be flown without express permission from town hall officials. Getting this approval can incur fees of up to £335. Under the new rules, people will be able to fly a much wider range of flags including the flags of football and cricket clubs or town and village flags.

The Coalition Government will also make it easier for communities wanting to celebrate the contribution of our armed forces by easing rules on flying local regimental flags. Other local flags, and projects like environmental awards, could also all be freed up from existing bureaucratic restrictions.

The document published today will give details about proposed changes to regulations governing which flags can be flown without planning permission. If you have any views on this please send them by email to:

Mr Pickles said:

If people want to celebrate something that is important to them by flying a flag they should be able to do so without having to fill in forms or paying town hall officials for the privilege. We will make it easier for people to celebrate their allegiance to a cause, a county or a local organisation if they choose to do so.

General Secretary of the Flag Institute, Charles Ashburner said:

Flags are important to all UK societies and social groups. They are emotive symbols of unity, revolution, sport, tribalism, protest, patriotism and pride. In our super fast world of instant news and ever changing technology flags nevertheless remain the ultimate symbol of identity. I therefore welcome these proposals as potentially the most significant review of flag regulations in a generation.

Eric Pickles surprised and delighted the Flag Institute when he announced, at our Spring Meeting, his intention to liberalise flag flying in the UK. Today’s launch makes good on that promise and takes an important step towards encouraging and protecting the huge variety of different community and individual identities of which British society should be so proud.

The deregulation of flag flying regulations in the UK is something which everyone who believes in freedom of expression should support.

Andrew Rosindell MP, Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Flags and Heraldry Committee said:

The Flags and Heraldry Committee welcomes this consultation by DCLG to relax the rules on flags. Flags are an important part of our national and local identities and the freedom to fly them is essential to our sense of community and patriotism. We thank the Flag Institute for the extensive work they have put into developing this document.

Notes to editors

  1. Currently the only flags allowed to be flown without consent are any country’s national flag; the European Union; the United Nations; the flag of the Commonwealth; the flag of any English county; and the flag of a patron saint which can be displayed only in the county with which the saint is associated.

  2. Other flags can be flown with deemed consent. These are a person or organisation’s own flag or one advertising an event taking place in the building it is being flown from. These flags must be flown from a vertical flagpole on the roof of the building. Military flags will still need the permission of the relevant body (such as regiment) before being flown.

  3. The Department’s approach is to extend the categories of flags that may be flown either without consent or with deemed consent. Any flags outside these categories will continue to be prohibited without express consent.

  4. Flags are deemed to be advertisements and their display is therefore controlled by the Town and Country Planning (Control of Advertisements) (England) Regulations 2007 (SI 2007 No. 783). Certain flags can be flown without consent (see Schedule 1 Class H) and others can be flown with deemed consent (see Schedule 3 Class 7A). The difference is that deemed consent can be discontinued or restricted in certain circumstances.


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Published 6 January 2012