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Farmers warned against hasty mobile phone mast agreements
Scotland Created: 6 Aug 2020
FARMERS have been warned not to rush into signing new telephone mast deals until a key Scottish legal ruling is decided.

According to land agents Galbraith, over recent weeks mobile phone operators have been urging farmers to commit to lease renewal terms for existing mast sites on their properties in Scotland, in advance of a pending Lands Tribunal decision that could prohibit the contract terms they are proposing.

Galbraith warned that mobile operators are offering significantly lower payments than the current rents received from these sites, as well as their standard terms, which often change many aspects of the agreement in their favour. However, they are offering one-off inducement payments, often in excess of £10,000, to property owners on condition they sign these agreements soon.

This timescale is likely to be prior to an expected Lands Tribunal for Scotland decision on whether the mobile operators can legally demand a replacement lease under the new Electronic Communications Code, which is aimed at modernising the UK’s telecommunications system.

The firm's head of energy, Mike Reid, urged caution: “Our advice is, seek independent advice and don’t rush into anything. The Scottish Lands Tribunal is due to decide on a case that could have a direct bearing on the agreement proposed by the mobile operators and generally speaking, farmers could agree better terms than the terms being proposed by the mobile operators.

“Any delay in agreeing new terms with the operators won’t affect mobile coverage or connectivity in the area as the mobile operators are already operating from these sites with the protection of the Code. The proposals received can also be quite misleading implying that the new Code rights are required for the operation of the site, which is often not the case.”
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Source: The Scottish Farmer, Gordon Davidson, 02 Aug 2020

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