We have rather come to expect to have mobile reception wherever we happen to be, but if you have a communication tower on your land, it's worth checking that the terms of the agreement are favourable. Partner A-J Monro explains why...
It is a frustrating thing when you are standing in a field with a broken down tractor and no mobile reception; or trying to order a part for your John Deere to be delivered the next day, but with insufficient network capacity to order it online. The EEC which was implemented under the Digital Economy Act 2017 is primarily aimed at improving accessibility to communication infrastructure and the digital network across the country. Thereby, there is an assumption made by those providing the infrastructure/telecom masts that you as farmers would be all for a tower on your land; however, we recognise that this is often not the case.
Well over a decade ago, there was a strong push by Network Providers to maximise their coverage and as a consequence, multiple telecom masts popped up all over the country with the landowners benefiting from a decent rent; now the situation has changed – the Network Operators have realised they can benefit both themselves and the general public by sharing sites, thus removing the need for as many separate towers.
The EEC gave the Network Operators the opportunity to consolidate and dramatically reduce the need for the number of towers as well as placing a new approach on the valuing of the rent payable for those that are to remain. The Network Operators are regularly bullying Landowners into accepting a low rent and more often than not, the level offered is well below what is right and fair.
If you have a Telecom tower on your property, it is important to check what type of agreement you have. If approached by a Network Operator looking to re-negotiate your lease or reduce your rent, we would urge you to seek professional advice -which more often than not will be paid for by Network Operator as part of those discussions.