The Digital Economy Bill received Royal Assent on 27 April 2017, which means that the new Electronic Communications Code may soon come into effect.
This poses potential issues for landowners as telecoms operators will, under the new Code, have new rights to apply to the court for an order imposing an obligation on a landowner to grant rights for telecoms apparatus to be installed on their land, if it is in the public interest to do so.
Under the new Code, it is envisaged that the rents and compensation payable to landowners in exchange for granting rights for the installation of apparatus on their land will be lower than the rates currently enjoyed by landowners. There will also be limited circumstances in which landowners can insist that the apparatus is removed from their land.
Under the new Code, an agreement for the installation and retention of telecoms equipment will no longer come to an end when the lease or licence period specified in an agreement expires. Instead, the operator will have statutory rights to retain the apparatus on the land unless the landowner can establish that one of a limited number of grounds exists.
It is not currently known when the new Code will come into force but it would be advisable for any landowner who is currently engaged in discussions with an operator to complete a lease or licence agreement as soon as possible so that the agreement is governed by the existing electronic communications code rather than the new Code.
If you require any advice in connection with a telecoms agreement, our Commercial Property team will be happy to assist.
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