Designing the broadband universal service obligation: call for inputs


 The Country Land and Business Association (CLA) represents 33,000 members in rural England and Wales. They are either farmers, landowners or rural businesses but all see the availability of effective, reliable and affordable broadband as essential. However, the lack of effective and affordable broadband creates a major disadvantage for rural businesses that are seeking to grow and increase productivity. All of the CLA’s membership will have an intrinsic interest in the design of a future Broadband Universal Service Obligation (USO) and the CLA welcomes this consultation as a means of finally putting in place a structure that will deliver universal coverage at sufficient speeds.

Business Broadband Review

The CLA has formally responded to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) call for evidence in its review of business broadband.  The CLA has made it very clear that it is still very much the case that too many rural businesses are still to be connected to effective, reliable and affordable broadband, without which they remain at a competitive disadvantage.  The response also stresses the need for far greater information and education regarding the advantages broadband can give to a rural business.  Such knowledge can aid a business to make the right decisions at the right time.  Regarding leased lines, the CLA believes that all too often businesses have had to pay very high costs simply because there has been no alternative.  What is vital is for a business to be able to use that leased line and the increased bandwidth to extend coverage over a wider geographic area, through additional fibre optic connections or a wireless network without hindrance from the infrastructure provider.  Finally the response stresses the challenges rural businesses face through a lack of sufficient bandwidth and the impact of this on the viability and productivity of the business.

Mobile Planning Changes: proposed changes to the Electronic Communications Code

The CLA supports changes proposed by government to make it easier for mobile operators to erect mobile communication masts.  The response also stresses the importance of Government to strike a balance in the location of new sites, especially in the event that this may negatively affect the growth of other economic sectors, such as tourism.

Further Reform of the Compulsory Purchase System

This consultation looks at imposing an interest reate of 8% above base rate which the CLA has been striving for, so we welcome this.  We also call of an updating of loss payments which do not reflect the increases in agricultural land values.  The consultation also sight to widen the definition of the scheme for valuation purposes which the CLA objected to in our response as the affect would be to artificially reduce compensation payments for land take.



HS2 Phase 2 Consultation EIA Scope and Methodology Report

This consultation governs the way HS2 Ltd will assess the environmental impact of the scheme for the Environmental Impact Assessment which will accompany the Phase 2 Bill.  The CLA response is that they must use up-todate accurate information.  They should share all data and survey results with landowners.  They should reduce land take and seek to location flexible areas of land take where it least impacts on the landowner - which may be away from the line.  Compensatory habitat must be used efficiently to reduce impact.

HS2 Phase 2A Property Compensation 2015: West Midlands - Crewe

The DfT consulted on the voluntary compensation measures for HS2 from West Midlands to Crewe.  The CLA argued that they should review all their current measures to ensure that they properly address the severe impact of HS2 on the landowner.  In particular slow processing and poor acceptance rate for the Need to Sell scheme, the need to compensate for scheme to compensate for the landlords interest, bring compensation payments forward to allow for replacement buildings and the need for DfT to push for Capital Taxation reform as it relates to compulsory purchase.


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