A combine harvests a cereal crop

Telecoms consultation proposes changes for landowners

Landowners who have telecoms equipment on their land, or who could have in the future, should act now to avoid losing valuable income and control over development.

A consultation on the Electronic Communications Code proposes broad-reaching changes to telecoms operators’ rights. Some recommendations were in landowners’ favour, but others were potentially detrimental to the value and control of their land, said Kary Withers from solicitor Clarke Willmott.

For example, the consultation proposes that payments for telecoms sites be based on the principles set out in section five of the Land Compensation Act 1961.

T his would assume a “no scheme world” and disregard the importance of a site to the national network.

“T his could potentially devalue existing sites and provide nominal rents for future sites,” said Mrs Withers.

“Further, it is proposed that all telecoms operators should have a statutory right to upgrade, share and assign their telecoms rights regardless of the terms within a lease, which would mean landowners have far less control over their property and unlimited equipment could be placed on a site at no additional rent.”

In landowners’ favour were proposals to make it easier for them to require apparatus to be removed, and clarification of their rights under the Landlord and Tenant Act, she added.

If you are a landowner and are concerned about telecoms operators being granted rights over your land (akin to the rights that electricity and gas companies already have) or if you already have telecoms equipment on your land then it is important that you make your representations to us by the end of September (to include within our response) or directly to the Commission before 28 October 2012.