Baileys and Partners update of The Electronic Communications Code.

New campaign addresses rights of farmers eroded by telecom companies

Further to our blog earlier this year on the Telecoms market, this blog is intended to provide a short synopsis of what developments have happened in the market.

Forming part of the Digital Economy Act 2017, The Electronic Communications Code was introduced in December 2017 to provide a range of measures to make it easier to allow network operators to place telecommunications infrastructure on both public and private land.

There is clear evidence that the Code continues to be ineffective. Very little deals are being struck between the landowners and operators and more referrals are being made to the Tribunal as a result. The core issue continues to be the payment for the sites.

A point to note is that the parties are free to agree whatever site payment they wish. Operators and landowners are only bound by the Code valuation principles of disregarding the use of the site for telecoms purposes in the Tribunal. The valuation principles themselves are subjective depending whether you are the Operator or the Landowner. It is not for the Operators to force this rental level on the landowners. The parties are encouraged to come to sensible agreements but it seems that the Operators are only willing to offer a slice of what they were agreeing to in the pre-2017 Code world.

The Central Association of Agricultural Valuers have recently reported that letters before legal action are becoming an ever more popular tactic played the operators, enabling operators to make referrals to the Tribunal which is not for the faint-hearted being a prohibitively expensive dispute resolution method for landowners.

EE v Meyrick was the latest case to be heard by the Tribunal. This case focused on Para 21(5) of the Electronic Communications Code and whether or not genuine intention for redevelopment could be demonstrated. Unfortunately, this case failed on the second hurdle being unable to demonstrate a firm intention to develop the site.

Surprisingly there has yet to be a case heard by the Tribunal on the core issue of Site Payment but this was touched on in CTIL V Compton Beauchamp Estates Ltd. The Tribunal were not convinced by the valuation methodology applied by the operators which is some good news for landowners. The Tribunal suggested that rental transactions of small sites which may be rented for a variety of purposes may well be a good comparable in determining the consideration payable.

Baileys and Partners have a wealth of knowledge in the telecoms sector and as surveyors we are experienced in representing clients. We also have considerable valuation expertise in North Wales and further afield which is essential when valuing the proposed agreement in place between the landowner and the operator.

Telecommunications sites are still an opportunity for landowners to diversify but great care must be taken when engaging with the Operators. Please do get in touch with us to discuss how we can help.

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