Advice On Contracts With Telecoms And Utilities Companies

9 September 2004

Mobile phone and radio masts continue to be in the news as technology develops and new masts are planned in various parts of the country. Whatever your views on the situation of masts, it has come to our attention that many of our clients could miss out on a valuable income stream...

mobile phone mastMobile phone and radio masts continue to be in the news as technology develops and new masts are planned in various parts of the country. Whatever your views on the situation of masts, it has come to our attention that many of our clients could miss out on a valuable income stream if they fail to inspect the terms of contracts governing masts situated on their land. We advise a wide range of clients from individual and family farmers to major landowners throughout Scotland and in the North of England. 

In particular, landowners should be aware of clauses in contracts relating to mast sharing and equipment rights, as many operators are breaching the terms of their contracts and should face severe penalties from site owners. 

Many clients who ask us for advice are unaware of the detailed terms governing mast sharing and the opportunities for additional income that could result, particularly where leases have been in place for some time – often on terms which were not designed to accommodate the rapid expansion in mobile technology. Landowners should review their lease terms to ensure there are no opportunities for renegotiation now and should be wary of any operators who request consent to vary the terms. Every contract renewal date represents an opportunity to re-negotiate the lease on a more favourable basis. It is never a good idea to simply stick with the contract you have, as there is usually room for improvement. 

The Raehills Trust in Dumfriesshire is one client of CKD Galbraith that benefited from timely advice. The Trust has now seen an increase of over 40 per cent on revenue it receives from a phone mast shared by several major telecoms companies. The initial income earned of £12,000 per annum has now risen to over £17,000 through a contract re-negotiation midway through the lease. We were able to examine the terms of the lease and found that sub-letting of the mast to several mobile phone operators was in breach of the tenants’ permitted rights. We advised the Trust to restructure its rental payments to include a percentage of the revenue paid by the telecoms companies to the tenant, Dumfries & Galloway Council, rather than receiving a single rental payment for the site.

We have established a discrete department, CKD Galbraith Network Projects, to advise on the negotiation of contracts, compensation, land acquisition, access rights and other matters pertaining to the management of telecoms, water, gas and electricity networks and masts. For more information please contact Mike Reid, head of CKD Galbraith Network Projects.

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