Rural landowners have pledged to work with fibre broadband infrastructure providers to renew and update an industry wayleave agreement for access across private land, if the Government proves its commitment to improving connectivity in the countryside.
The CLA which represents landowners, farmers and rural businesses made the offer to the Government in response to a call for evidence by the Department for Culture, Media & Sport on extending local full fibre broadband networks. A wayleave is a legal written consent which allows infrastructure providers access to carry out work on privately owned land.
CLA Senior Business and Economics Adviser Charles Trotman said: “This consultation marks a major departure from previous government policy on improving connectivity and is in line with many recommendations made by the CLA on the future of rural broadband.
“We fully support the Government’s commitment to full fibre roll out to improve broadband and mobile coverage. This latest push must end the long running rural-urban divide once and for all. We are looking for government and industry to set out more specific plans that show where and when digital infrastructure will be upgraded in rural areas. We are also calling for a new marketing effort to ensure rural home and business owners are aware when new connections become available.
“If the Government follows through on the commitment it is setting out, the CLA is prepared to work with the industry to negotiate an overarching wayleave agreement between landowners and infrastructure providers for access to deliver a network of underground fixed lines. Such a deal has the potential to dramatically advance broadband provision in rural areas.”
Many of the approaches the Government is considering in its consultation are in line with recommendations made to invest for change in the CLA’s Rural Business 2030 report published in December 2016.