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CLA and NFU Reach Wayleave Deal to Boost Broadband for UK Rural Areas

Friday, Jan 11th, 2013 (8:03 am) - Score 4,039

The Country Land and Business Association (CLA) and National Farmers Union (NFU) have unveiled a new wayleave agreement that should make it easier, quicker and cheaper to roll-out new superfast broadband services into rural parts of the United Kingdom. The deal has faced many delays and was originally intended to launch before the end of 2011.

Wayleave agreements (terminable licences), which effectively grant special access to land for the deployment of new infrastructure (e.g. running a new underground fibre optic cable through a farmers private field), are notoriously complicated and costly to arrange. Each land owner typically requires a different approach and compensation but in some cases the costs can quickly spiral out of control.

By contrast the new package of “advisory wayleave payment rates and terms” will, claims the CLA, mean that not-for-profit or private companies looking to install the infrastructure needed for a community rural broadband network can work with farmers and landowners more productively. Crucially it will “reduce the time and cost” of such work by cutting down on the need for lengthy negotiation.

Harry Cotterell, CLA President, said:

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.”

Adam Quinney, NFU Vice President, added:

We know how increasingly important rural broadband connection is to farmers and those with diversified businesses.

We very much hope that these wayleave agreements will help to deliver broadband to the 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.”

Land owners had previously been weary of such a deal, just as you would if somebody wanted to run a new cable through your garden or field. The NFU had also raised concerns about the impact of Competition Legislation upon its proposals (i.e. the cartel provisions).

However the new deal isn’t quite the all-encompassing national wayleave agreement that some might have been hoping for. The CLA and NFU’s “example agreements” merely “suggest payment rates for broadband apparatus“, which should make it easier and more cost effective to roll-out the necessary infrastructure but still leaves plenty of room for discussion.

Both groups claim that, in some circumstances, a landowner could also waive payment in return for their own high-speed broadband connection to the network, although they could have done that before but it might have taken longer to get the necessary paperwork sorted.

Ed Vaizey, Communications Minister, said:

The publication of the CLA and NFU rural wayleave agreement is great news. It will go a long way to making our roll-out of rural broadband cheaper and quicker by reducing the cost and time taken in negotiating individual land access agreements, while providing certainty to communications providers and ensuring landowners receive appropriate compensation.”

The current advisory wayleave rate for fibre/duct is said to be 25p per metre per year or £3.75 per metre as a one off payment. For each joint box or cabinet, the current advisory rate is £30 per year, or £450 as a one-off payment. The CLA and NFU will now “recommend” this wayleave package to their respective members

Apparently the first areas to benefit could be Rothbury and Coquetdale (Northumberland, England), which has just won £460,000 from DEFRA’s £20m Rural Community Broadband Fund (RCBF) to help connect around 1,500 local homes and businesses via a new broadband network (this equates to about 50% of the overall £920k project cost).

Some 60% of local residents and businesses said they supported the iCoquetdale project and would give “direct hands-on involvement” to a commercial partner (BT has been mentioned but is not yet chosen). This all relates to yesterday’s call for more broadband funding in Northumberland (here).

By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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