Telecom masts – A Scottish rural perspective

By Charlotte Gilfillan Associate, Rural Land Management

Mast in Perthshire.

Rural Scotland currently experiences some of the worst mobile phone coverage in the UK, with only 41% of rural areas able to access 4G.

There is increasing pressure to address the lack of digital connectivity to rural communities, with an Ofcom target of 74% geographical coverage in Scotland by 2022.

Improving coverage is essential to support the growth of businesses and the tourism industry, and retain young people.

Undoubtedly the landscape and geography of Scotland causes technological issues when looking to expand networks to reach those communities most in need and there have been recent calls to identify suitable alternatives to masts. However, in lieu of that technology, current and potential mast sites only increase in importance when aspiring to these targets.

Landowners have long since recognised the necessity and benefits of increasing rural mobile coverage and have supported it, however given the loss of income they are now facing under the New Code Agreements, the incentive to continue that support is being undermined. Many landowners rely on the rental income generated by mast sites to manage their land accordingly, which results in a range of economic, social and environmental benefits.

Perhaps a better use of the Operators’ time and resources would be spent working with landowners to agree how coverage could be improved, without the need for a significant reduction in vital income, as opposed to forcing nominal rents through the courts and creating further conflict.

To find out more contact Charlotte Gilfillan on 01863 766 683 or charlotte.gilfillan@bellingram.co.uk

Published on 19th August 2019