A Welsh beef and sheep farmer has warned he faced losing 90 per cent of the income from his mast when his contract came up for renewal.
Farmers have been warned they could face huge drops in rental incomes for telecoms masts as a result of the Government push to increase mobile phone coverage.
Glamorgan beef and sheep farmer David Williams has warned farmers to be aware when their contract was up for renewal, after receiving an offer which would see the rent reduce by 90 per cent.
He said the idea was to encourage the rollout of phone coverage but it actually meant farmers like him would lose interest.
“Without a fair return, people are not going to want to spend all that money putting them in,” he added.
The Farmers Union of Wales (FUW) called for prompt action to redress the cash shortfall, as it was ‘grossly unfair’ telecoms companies should be ‘selling landowners short’.
It follows the revision of the Electronic Communications Code which FUW said effectively reduces any payment as if it were an ordinary agricultural rent.
Tudur Parry, FUW land use committee chairman, said where market rent for land was £150 a year per acre, a mast compound may only equate to £3.70 a year in rent.
“Worse still, if the farmer refuses, under the new act, the company can seek to impose rights through the upper tribunal.”
The Government acknowledged this could cause rents to drop by around 40 per cent but the CLA said Mr Williams’ case and others had shown this to be much higher.
CLA senior rural business and economist adviser Dr Charles Trotman urged farmers to remember the proposed drop was the first step in a negotiation process.
“They will need to follow up with strong arguments around access, negligence and the value to operators themselves.”
He added longer term they wanted to see a market emerge which reflected the reality and eliminated ‘derisory offers’ as the industry needed landowner buy-in to meet their targets.
NFU land management adviser Eleanor Griggs said the union was urging operators to show consideration to farmers by reconsidering their valuation methods.
“We are engaged in a dialogue with operators and would encourage farmers to do the same, by working constructively in producing their own justifiable and independent valuations as part of a negotiation process.”