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The long-awaited revision of the Electronic Communications Code has now been confirmed.

On 15th December the Commencement Order was published, which brings the new Code into effect on 28th December 2017.

The published legislation differs from the earlier drafts which were very controversial. Some changes are for the better, but some could be a major concern to landowners.


The biggest relief for many site providers is that they will continue to receive market rents for their sites, albeit the precise definition has yet to be put to the test. As the market dictates the rents it is up to landowners and Agents to make sure they negotiate hard to achieve the best rents for the benefit of the whole sector.

Court Involvement

The Code aims to encourage parties to reach a mutual agreement but if they fail to do so, either party can apply to the Courts to impose a reasoned agreement. Slightly akin to utility installation, landowners without existing equipment on their land will now struggle to prevent new rights being imposed on them. In contrast, this has been welcomed by many with existing equipment as it is surprisingly common for rent reviews or lease renewals to fall by the wayside if one party simply refuses to come to the negotiating table.

Equipment Sharing

Operators will now have the freedom to share equipment with other companies without paying the landowner any additional revenues. For some this could mean a significant loss in revenues.

Tree lopping

Operators will have the right to fell any trees which interfere with their equipment. In some instances this has resulted in mile long corridors being felled through commercial woodland to provide ‘line of sight’ to the operator’s network for little or no compensation. Any landowner with woodland, commercial or otherwise will need professional advice to avoid very substantial losses.

Lease Termination

Yet another concern is an obligation for landowners to provide at least 18 months’ notice to terminate a lease, even if the tenant is in breach. This could have significant cost implications and could even put landowners in breach of development agreements.

Professional Advice

Mast agreements have remained largely unchanged since the 1990s but that will be far from the case going forward. The complete re-writing of the Code must be followed by a re-writing of site agreements if landowners are to have any protection against some very biased obligations. It will be particularly difficult especially in the early years for landowners to represent themselves in negotiations without inadvertently accepting very costly obligations.

It is more important than ever that landowners seek professional advice for any matters related to communications equipment. As operators must contribute towards professional costs for new agreements there is no reason not to be professionally represented.

GSC Grays manage Code agreements for numerous landowners and will be glad to discuss how these changes may affect proposed or existing agreements.

For further information please contact:

[team-member name=”Chris Thyer”]

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