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Landowners 'bullied' by telecoms firms

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CAMPAIGNERS are calling on the Government to close a legal loophole which has seen telecoms companies slash rents for masts by up to 90 per cent since the Electronic Communications Code was introduced in 2017.

About 25,000 landowners have been affected, with many feeling bullied by companies dictating the terms and demanding access to their land.

 

And telecoms companies were now demanding even greater rights.

 

But the Protect and Connect campaign is now calling on Ministers to revisit the legislation and create a fair system and has urged affected landowners to contact their local MP.

A UK Government consultation into the code was launched in January and closes on March 24.

 

Former Redcar MP Anna Turley who chairs the campaign, said the code was a ‘real flaw in policy-making’, which had put the commercial benefit of big companies at the expense of smaller landowners, such as farmers, churches and sports clubs.

 

Power

 

She said: “One side has been given a complete green light. The other side has no power.”

 

She added there would likely be more landowners who would be affected over the coming years, who were, as yet, unaware.

 

Ms Turley added infrastructure was important to help the rollout of broadband, but this was likely to be counter-productive.

 

She asked: “Why would anyone undertake one of those agreements for £10?”

 

Potato grower Nick Durdy, based near Doncaster, said he had been angered by the way his telecoms company had acted, as he had essentially no choice but to accept a drastically lower amount of money.

 

A mast was put in on the farm about 10 years ago and he received payments of about £5,000 a year. But this had now dropped to £870/year.

 

Difficult

 

And this drop had come at a difficult time for the business, with his potato contract being cut back dramatically on the back of the Covid-19 pandemic.

 

He said: “It was some money I knew was coming in at a time when farming was not brilliant.”

 

He was also told he could not prevent them from coming onto his land at any time they wanted.

 

Mr Durdy said he felt he had no choice, being told he could accept the offer being made or he would be taken to court where he would be likely to lose.

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