The New Electronic Communications Code: Initial Impact
Has the introduction of the new Electronic Communications Code (“Code”) on 28 December 2017 shaken up the market and accelerated the creation of a connected digital society or has it created uncertainty and reluctance in negotiations between landowners and operators? So far, sadly, it has been more the latter.
MobileUK, the Country Land and Business Association, the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport issued a joint statement on the Code on 22 August 2018. In it they admitted that “Since the new legislation was introduced, there have been problems with negotiations progressing.” The joint statement also said “some initial uncertainty is to be expected”.
There are still large question marks over what many of the changes introduced under the Code mean. For instance, operators have the right to “upgrade” equipment on communications sites, but the Code does not explain exactly what is meant by that. The new valuation mechanism introduced by the Code has led operators to believe that they can expect to pay much lower consideration to use sites, whereas landowners understandably are taking a different view and are resisting demands for rent reductions.
Several references have been made to the Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber) relating to the new Code but these are yet to be determined. Until such time as they are, the uncertainty will remain, unless the Government issues new guidance.
For more information on this, please contact Graham Jones, or you can give us a call on 0345 070 6000.