Compulsory Purchase & Compensation - Wayleaves & Easement - Fibre Optic Cables

April 15, 2015

The UK Countryside is criss-crossed by a Network of High Voltage electricity pylons.  Along the top of these towers runs an earth wire, to which a fibre-optic cable is often attached.  The fibre optic cable can be used for one of 2 purposes:

1.    Monitoring the electricity network.
2.    Providing part of the National Electronic Data Network.

The fibre-optic cables were first installed in the early 1990’s.  At the time there was much debate about their installation – some electricity companies held that they had compulsory powers under the Electricity Act 1989.  This argument was considered correct for where the fibre-optic was used in connection with monitoring the electricity network.

Where the fibre-optic was for the electronic data network this was found to be a communications cable and covered by the Telecommunications Act.  As the electricity companies did not have powers under that legislation they had to agree terms with land and property owners for the right to install and maintain the fibre-optic.  Many of these agreements were for fixed periods of 10 or 15 years and are consequently due for renewal.

There are predominantly 2 companies running fibre optic networks – Energis and Cable & Wireless.  Energis have a nationwide agreed fee rate for equipment held on an annual basis.

It is, however, possible to agree longer terms – even permanent easements and for which enhanced rates may be payable. 

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