The impact of the Digital Economy Act 2017 on landowners

Trying to persuade a telecommunication company to remove their apparatus (such as pylons) from their land will be in agreement when saying it isn’t easy.

The current legislation regulating the process is outlined in the Electronic Communications Code 1984. It includes many hoops one has to jump though before any apparatus is actually removed from an area.

The Digital Economy Act will now introduce a new code, but will only apply to agreements entered into after the regulations are brought into effect.

It will introduce changes that impact the rights of all parties to an agreement relating to telecommunication apparatus; most noteworthy include:

  • There will be no right for the landowner to restrict the operator to upgrade apparatus, due to a provision preserving the right for the operator to upgrade the apparatus is entirely understandable given the need to keep up with technological advancements.
  • A new way of calculating compensation for imposing agreements on landowners that will likely result in falling levels of compensation.
  • The landowner now owns the right to terminate the agreement (with agreement of the court), without having to serve a notice.

The rights of each party should be soon clearer when the Act is fully devised, however this may come as a cost to the landowner as to how much they can receive in terms of rent and compensation.

The fact that the court has to order the termination of the agreement is a step forward in clarity for landowners, however the direct steps needing to be taken may end up increasing costs for landowners.

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