An updated framework for wayleaves – rights of way granted by a landowner, generally in exchange for payment and typically for purposes such as the development of infrastructure – has been developed by the CLA, the membership organisation for owners of land, property and business in rural England and the NFU, the representation body for agriculture and horticulture in England and Wales – to pave the way for broadband infrastructure providers to speed up the roll-out of rural broadband while ensuring fair treatment for landowners.
The updated national Rural Communications Agreement, announced at the CLA Connected Countryside in London, includes advisory rates of payment for the installation of new underground digital infrastructure on private land, representing a 4 per cent rise on previous rates set in 2012.
Available to all broadband infrastructure providers, the new wayleave agreement is designed to make it easier for landowners and broadband providers to reach agreement. The CLA represents 30,000 landowners, farmers and rural businesses across England and Wales.
“People living and working in rural areas have fought long and hard for better broadband provision, and the wayleave agreement that we announce today will help speed up fixed line broadband delivery without eroding property rights. It creates a national framework that provides certainty for individual landowners and smooths the way for faster roll-out.
“This revised national Rural Communications Agreement is the culmination of more than a year’s work, and we are pleased to announce this positive step forwards,” commented CLA Deputy President Mark Bridgeman. “But there is more work to do: the CLA will keep the pressure on broadband providers to deliver the fast, affordable and reliable connections that the countryside needs, and we will hold Government to their promise of a Universal Service Obligation of 10Mbps by 2020.”
“The rural network build programme that Gigaclear already has underway will reach over 300,000 homes and businesses by 2021,” advised Gigaclear Chief Executive Matthew Hare. “This agreement simplifies and streamlines the agreement of wayleave requests.”
The NFU represents 55,000 members in England and Wales, involved in 46,000 farming businesses. NFU Vice President Stuart Roberts said: “We know how increasingly important rural broadband connection is to farmers and those with diversified businesses. We very much hope that this updated agreement will help to deliver broadband to rural areas which currently have poor, unreliable or non-existent broadband connection. Fast rural broadband is essential for our forward-thinking and dynamic farming industry, especially as we approach exiting the European Union.”
The updated agreement suggests advisory payment rates for installation of equipment that landowners can enter into with companies wishing to install a broadband network. The agreement also sets out the rights and responsibilities of both landowners and broadband operators. The suggested rates and agreements will help to cut down the time and cost of negotiating individual wayleaves, making it easier and more cost effective to get the infrastructure for broadband put in place.