Electronic Communications Code

Digital, Culture, Media and Sport – in the House of Commons on 1st July 2021.

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Photo of Heather Wheeler Heather Wheeler Conservative, South Derbyshire

If he will make it his policy to conduct an impact assessment of the potential financial effect on community organisations of proposals to reform the electronic communications code.

Photo of Matt Warman Matt Warman The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

The Government are currently considering the responses to the consultation on the electronic communications code, which closed in March, and we will, of course, carefully consider the impact of our proposals on all stakeholders, including community organisations, which we all value so highly.

Photo of Heather Wheeler Heather Wheeler Conservative, South Derbyshire

I thank the Minister for his answer. He will be aware that thousands of farmers, churches and community groups who host mobile telecoms infrastructure on their land have faced financial hardship because of the 2017 ECC reform, with some seeing enforced rent reductions of up to 90%, as has happened in my constituency. What measures is he planning to support those who face losing these critical sources of income? Will he kindly agree to meet me and representatives of these impacted groups as soon as possible?

Photo of Matt Warman Matt Warman The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

I would be delighted to meet my hon. Friend to discuss this. It is important to be clear that those 2017 reforms were intended to cut the amount paid by operators and put them on a similar footing to other utilities, and that supports the roll-out of connectivity that we all want to see. However, it is important that the negotiations that take place are fair commercial ones and that landowners ultimately receive a fair price. The reason we are consulting as we speak is to make sure that the system works effectively and that those fair prices are delivered.