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CLA Confirms National UK Wayleave Agreement to Boost Rural Broadband Rollouts

Posted: 21st Jul, 2011 By: MarkJ
uk mapcountry land and business association uk The Country Land and Business Association (CLA), a lobby group for owners of land, property and businesses in rural England and Wales, has today confirmed to ISPreview.co.uk that it is attempting to develop a regulated national UK wayleave agreement for builders of new broadband ISP networks. Such a move could make it significantly easier, cheaper and quicker to deploy superfast fibre optic internet access services into rural areas.

Wayleave agreements are a terminable licence for which you'd pay an annual rent or compensation. The licence then forms a legal basis that would allow an ISP, with the owner's consent, to install new telecoms infrastructure (i.e. fibre optic cable) through or over an existing property (e.g. a farmers field).

At present the process of reaching such agreements can be a costly, complicated and time consuming affair because each property owner requires a different approach. Costs can easily spiral out of control and thus inhibit the expansion of new technologies.

The agreement itself was originally due to be announced last week but, according to a CLA spokeswoman, had to be "postponed due to a legal query by the [National Farmers Union]". The NFU, which shares many of its members with the CLA, is rightly understood to be concerned about the impact of Competition Legislation (i.e. the cartel provisions) upon its proposals.

The CLA's Head of Rural Business Development, Dr Charles Trotman, told ISPreview.co.uk:

"There are two wayleave agreements being worked on, one for CICS [Community Interest Companies] and one for private infrastructure providers. Any rates that are being negotiated would be advisory only. We hope to officially announce the agreements in the next few months."

Crucially the CLA, which hopes to gain an exemption to existing competition rules (if one is actually needed), notes that the new agreement would not be mandatory. It's likely that the rules guidelines would be followed by the CLA's own members, though this only accounts for a moderate slice of all UK property owners. As a result some projects might still face difficulties, although the standardised approach could help to resolve such situations.

Br0kenTeleph0n3 suggested earlier this week that the CLA would ideally like to have its new agreement in place by mid-October 2011, although this is very much dependent upon a resolution of the current legal issues.
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