The Electronic Communications Code regulates the relationship between landowners and providers of telecommunications services such as broadband, mobile phone networks, cable television, and landlines. The code has been in force, subject to some minor changes, since 1984 and was well in need of an overhaul.

It has now been announced that the new Electronic Communications Code will come into force on 28 December 2017.

Whilst the new code has some notable advantages for landowners – resolving the uncomfortable relationship with the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 for one – it also contains very onerous provisions for landowners who want to remove telecoms equipment, such as mobile phone masts, from their land.

To terminate an agreement protected by the new code, a site provider must serve at least 18 months’ notice on the operator. The site provider must then apply to court and prove one of four statutory grounds, before then serving another ‘reasonable’ period of notice and applying to court yet again to seek removal of the equipment.

However, under the transitional arrangements, a landowner can serve a notice under the old code, giving just 28 days’ notice requiring removal of the equipment. A court application would still be required if the operator opposes the removal, and the deck will still be stacked heavily in favour of the operator, but the shorter notice period should greatly increase the chances of an early settlement.

Landowners or operators requiring advice about the code should contact Ed Cracknell.