The government's much anticipated National Planning Policy Framework urges communities across the UK to recognise the role of a high quality communications infrastructure, which it says is essential for sustainable economic growth.

The purpose of the framework is to aid central government and local authorities in planning to achieve sustainable development.

Greg Clark, minister for planning, said: "We must respond to the changes that new technologies offer us. Our lives, and the places in which we live them, can be better, but they will certainly be worse if things stagnate."

The report, released today, recommended that local authorities should not only support existing business sectors, but also identify and plan for new or emerging sectors that are likely to locate in their area.

Part of this includes planning for the "location, promotion and expansion of clusters or networks of knowledge driven, creative or high technology industries."

Further to this, a significant chunk of the report is dedicated to supporting a high quality communications infrastructure, which it says will play a vital role in enhancing the provision of local community facility and services.

It states: "In preparing local plans, local planning authorities should support the expansion of electronic communications networks, including telecommunications and high speed broadband."

The government has currently allocated £780 million worth of funding to support the rollout of broadband in the UK, for which it says will create the best superfast broadband network in the UK by 2015.

Although the report recognises the need for a modern communications infrastructure, it also advises that communities should aim to keep the number of radio and telecommunications masts and sites to a minimum, whilst ensuring that networks are efficient.

"Existing masts, buildings and other structures should be used, unless the need for a new site has been justified," reads the report.

"Where new sites are required, equipment should be sympathetically designed and camouflaged where appropriate."

When new telecommunications developments are planned, local plans must also present evidence that they will not cause significant and irremediable interference with other electrical equipment, air traffic services or instrumentation operated in the national interest.