Landmark agreement may make wayleaves easier for rural broadband
To the average person wayleaves seem a very simple issue, but for broadband projects they can be critical both in times of deployment time and cost. Traditionally every landowner had to be approached individually and negotations taking place, with solicitors on both sides generally being the biggest winner. The Country Land & Business Association (CLA) and the National Farmers Union (NFU) have now created a package to help advise landowners how to approach wayleave agreements with both community broadband solutions and commercial providers.
"The importance of good rural broadband cannot be over-emphasised. It is essential for business, whether starting up or expanding, essential for education and research and an important communication tool for all rural communities.
We are confident this wayleaves package will help secure consent for a broadband infrastructure to be rolled out to the final third of the country who still suffer with chronically poor broadband."CLA President Harry Cotterell
Generally the sticking point with wayleave agreements is over compensation, and if no agreement is reached providers can revert to a court order to gain access, but that is very much a last resort. The issue of compensation in the new advisory takes two routes:
- Where broadband is via a Not For Profit / Community solution: The CLA/NFU recommend that compensation in the form of better broadband for the landowner is reasonable. Obviously every case will differ, but for community solutions that benefit the wider community hopefully landowners will act as good neighbours.
- Where the rural broadband is part of a commercial rollout e.g. BDUK project: These projects generally benefit the community the same as not for profit solutions, but in terms of revenue available are nothing like the high cost high capacity fibre transits that sometimes cross land and can afford high levels of compensation. The NFU/CLA suggest 25p per metre of duct/fibre per year or a one off payment of £3.75 per metre is adequate. Larger structures like a joint box or cabinet rise to £30 per year, or £450 as a one off payment.
These guidance notes had been expected back in 2011, but just as with wayleave agreements themselves, reaching a consensus takes time, and with the BDUK projects now entering the real planning phase the timing is right, so that fibre route plans can be produced and landowners be approached. Even though most BDUK projects are expected to go to BT and their existing ducting/poles will be used where possible, for areas with directly buried copper, cheaper land access for new ducting and more options for cabinet locations will be welcomed. Other projects like those ran by GigaClear and Cotswold Broadband also stand to gain.