The Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) has branded Assembly Members ’naive’ and claimed they have been ’misled’ after they recommended farmers should lose subsidy unless they agree to install network masts on their land.
The Economy, Infrastructure and Skills Committee made the extreme call in a recent report which looked at ways Welsh digital infrastructure could be improved.
Now the union’s land use chairman, Gavin Williams, has written a stinging letter to the committee which blamed the cumbersome planning process and unacceptable behaviour from communication companies for most refusals from farmers.
"There may well be a handful of cases where landowners have been uncooperative", the letter read.
"But we would suggest members of the committee have been misled if they believe this is so widespread it warrants a draconian recommendation to Government.
"We share the committee’s frustrations regarding barriers to broadband and mobile coverage, but find it wholly unacceptable that a National Assembly for Wales committee has been led to believe – some would say naively – that it would be desirable to see multi-billion pound commercial companies boosting their profits by forcing family farms to accept one-sided agreements which in no way reflect the commercial nature of mobile and broadband infrastructure."
Mr Williams’ letter follows complaints about the new Digital Economy Act which has stripped farmers of their right to kick network operators off their land – even if they did not pay rent or were found to be in breach of contract.