Review of code impacting property and mobile masts

24 Feb2021

The Electronic Communication Code came into force on 28 December 2017, the main purpose of the Code was to make it easier to improve connectivity and most recently its impact has been to roll out 5G across the UK.

Since its implementation, there have been numerous disputes between telecommunication providers and landowners about the way the Code is interpreted. As such, consultation is now taking place to consider whether the Code needs changing or not.

The Consultation is seeking views of landowners, operators, internet providers, consumers etc. on whether there is a need for a change to the current Code in order to help with the delivery of telecommunications and connectivity to both domestic and business users.

There are a number of areas the consultation is seeking to address, these include:

  1. Right to share and upgrade equipment on sites.
  2. Issues with interpretation and implementation of the current code by telecommunication providers and landowners/site providers.
  3. Major difficulties both landowners/site providers and the telecommunication providers have around the renewal of any expired agreements.

The Consultation will not be a tool to address any concerns parties have about valuations/rent payments.

It has been identified that once an agreement is completed to implement telecommunications apparatus on a site, there is no provision under the Code for either party to apply to Court and ask for new or different terms to be implemented. Parties will have to wait until the end of the term on the agreement they enter into to make any changes. As such, it is now taking longer for parties to agree terms, which in turn is impacting the time it is taking for new apparatus to be installed on sites and delaying any improvements to the telecommunication connectivity.

The Code also in certain circumstances, allows the telecommunication providers to upgrade their equipment and share with other network providers, without the Landowners consent. This has caused major disputes between the landowners/site providers and the telecommunication providers. The Consultation will seek whether there is a requirement to balance the playing field and if there is a need to give the landowner more say in new equipment being placed on their property.

The current Code has recently caused some confusion about the rights to extend and/or renew existing agreements between landowners and telecommunication providers. This has caused an increase of cases being taken to the tribunals, causing additional works for the court service. The Consultation seeks to address this also and see whether alternative dispute resolution may be a better way forward in these circumstances.

The consultation is due to run until 24 March 2021. A copy of the consultation can be found on the link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/consultation-on-changes-to-the-electronic-communications-code

If you would like advice on these points or any other Property matters, please contact Mohammed Rahman at Borneo Martell Turner Coulston Solicitors [email protected]  01604 622101