The hills are alive…with the sound of texting.
Visitors to some of the country’s most stunning landscapes will now be able to enjoy improved mobile coverage thanks to a new deal between conservationists and mobile operators.
National Parks England, the governing body behind the nation’s 10 parks, has announced a new deal with the Mobile Operators Association (MOA), to bring "high quality connectivity" to people living in or visiting the areas without causing any environmental damage.
MOA’s members include EE, Vodafone, O2 and Three, who will be encouraged to share masts in order to help meet these requirements without the need to build new structures which might spoil the landscape.
Where the building of new masts is necessary, the MOA will work together with the National Parks England in order to develop less intrusive designs to help the structures blend in with the landscape.
England’s National Parks cover around 10% of the country, and include popular tourist destinations such as Dartmoor, the Peak District and the Norfolk Broads.
Dr Nigel Stone, Exmoor’s National Park Officer, said: "National Park Authorities have developed good working relationships with the installers of mobile phone networks where close working has enabled areas to receive good coverage without detriment to some of England’s most sensitive landscapes.
"Increasingly, the cost of deployment and operation of new mobile phone masts has been the most significant barrier to wider coverage as we have worked together to enable careful siting and design of new installations. We welcome interest from mobile operators in extending their networks to the benefit of local communities and visitors to National Parks."
The scheme attracted widespread government support, with backing coming from the Department for Culture, Media & Sport, the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs and the Department for Communities and Local Government.
Communications Minister Ed Vaizey MP, said: "Our National Parks are areas of incredible beauty but they are also places where people live and work.
"They need access to the modern communications that many of us have taken for granted for years. The new agreement could make a real difference to those who live, work or visit our glorious National Parks."