meet the people affected by this
From local farmers to community sports clubs, these proposed changes could have a devastating effect on small landowners across the UK. Here’s what a few of them had to say.
You can help us stop the Mobile Mast Rip-Off by making your voice heard:
rent reduction: more than 95%
Ed’s farm is his family’s livelihood - owned and still farmed by Ed’s father and uncle. The family agreed to lease their land and host a mobile mast for £5,500 a year over ten years. But now telecoms companies have offered just £35 over ten years - and in doing so have actively slowed down the process of getting the mast up and running on the land.
Ed’s farm already faces an uncertain future, but the family hopes to work in partnership with businesses to secure its longevity. But the Mobile Mast Rip-Off means they aren’t getting a fair deal - and Britain’s 5G rollout plan will also be at risk if more farmers like Ed are put off hosting masts on their land.
rent reduction: 96%
Rufai’s church hosts a mobile mast to help speed up the rollout of 5G to the local community. But under new terms they’ve been offered, they are facing a rent reduction of 96% over four years.
Rufai and his church were given an ultimatum by the operator to whom they lease: to accept the new terms or begin legal proceedings. They felt they “didn’t have another option”, and they “wouldn’t win it anyway” if they tried to challenge the decision at a tribunal. The Mobile Mast Rip-Off is bad for churches like Rufai’s - and it will be bad news for hopes of speeding up Britain’s 5G connectivity if it keeps punishing small landowners like our churches.
Derek, rugby club secretary
rent reduction: more than 87.5%
Derek is the secretary of his local community rugby club in Aylesbury. Without any warning or consultation, the club was told the rent they receive for housing a mobile mast would be cut from £6,000 to just £750 a year - having a damning impact on the club’s finances and their ability to provide sport to the local community, including many junior members at the club.
Derek feels their club is being “bullied into accepting a ludicrously low rent” and has been “threatened with court action” which “of course, we can’t afford.” Far from speeding up the delivery of 5G to his area, this approach is actually just slowing the whole process down - favouring the profits of big telecoms operators “off the back of thousands of small landowners whose interests are being ignored.” The Mobile Mast Rip-Off is damaging for communities like Derek’s, and damaging the Government’s plans to speed up Britain’s 5G rollout.
Tony, care home owner
rent reduction: 96%
Tony runs a care home, and agreed to lease his land to house a mobile mast for £9,500 per year for ten years. He was then offered just £241.61 a year and a lump sum of £50, after agreeing to the installation of new masts on his roof.
Tony feels he’s been “lied to” - and that telecoms companies were “entering into a discussion knowing they had no intention of honouring” its terms. Had he been aware of the upcoming reductions in his lease, he would “never have allowed” the new masts on his land to be installed.
The enforcement of these huge rent reductions isn’t just bad for small landowners like Tony - it’s actively endangering the government’s 5G rollout plans. If more landowners like Tony become unwilling to host a mobile mast on their property, it will take even longer to bring Britain better internet.
As a farmer, Edward’s livelihood relies entirely on the usability of his land. But while leasing his land for a mobile mast, operators have had little respect for Edward’s farmland and his living, “chewing up a 6 acre field” when managing the mast equipment - and even returning to the site after being requested to stay away for fear of the “damage to the land that the machinery will inflict.”
But the Mobile Mast Rip-Off isn’t just endangering the livelihood of farmers like Edward - it’s endangering Britain's 5G rollout too. If farmers fear the impact that hosting a mast will have on their land, it will take even longer to boost Britain’s connectivity and hit the Government’s targets for delivering better internet for all.
Jenny, farm owner
rent reduction: 95%
Jenny agreed to house a mobile mast on her late mother’s farmland for £6,000 a year - and was then informed by the telecoms operator her rent would be slashed to just £300 per year. Despite offering to accept a considerable 60% reduction in rent, the telecoms operator refused - and she's now being threatened with court action.
Jenny says it feels like “those with a huge legal budget seem to be able to harass the little people who own the land, with impunity” - and it even seems like this behaviour is “apparently backed by the Government and the 2017 Telecommunications Code.”
But this counterproductive policy isn’t just impacting family-owned farms like Jenny’s - it’s endangering the government’s nationwide 5G rollout plans too. If more landowners are pushed away from hosting a mobile mast on their land, it will delay bringing faster, better internet for half the UK population by the end of 2022.
Richard, park manager
rent reduction: 98%
Richard’s charity used to earn over £15,000 per year a mobile mast in Highfields Park, an amount they would reinvest entirely back into the community by building new paths and play areas for the community.
But under new terms Richard has been offered, that rent would be reduced to just £200 a year, a reduction of over 98%.
Richard tells us that his charity “couldn’t afford to risk funds” by taking on a telecoms giant in the courts. This major hit to Richard’s charity will ultimately affect the local community, as the amount being reinvested into the park drops massively.
The Mobile Mast Rip-Off is bad news for parks and communities like Richard’s - and Britain’s 5G rollout plan will also be at risk if more communities like Richard’s are put off hosting masts on their land.
rent reduction: 83%
Nick earned £5,500 a year for housing a mobile mast on his potato farm in Doncaster to help facilitate better 5G internet access for his community. The telecoms operator then slashed the rent he received by a staggering 83% - with Nick’s only alternative option being costly legal action, which he has been advised he has very little chance of winning.
We need farmers like Nick who want to put their communities first and help improve Britain’s connectivity by hosting a mobile mast. But the Mobile Mast Rip-Off means they aren’t getting a fair deal - and this is even putting the UK’s 5G rollout plan at risk as more and more farmers like Nick may be put off hosting a mast on their land.
Martin, business owner
rent reduction: 93%
Martyn is a businessman who is housing a mobile mast on his land in south Derbyshire. He feels “backed into a corner” because he either has to accept the huge rent reduction of 93% imposed by a telecoms giant or face an expensive battle in the courts that he’s unlikely to win. He’s been advised that if he refuses the hugely-reduced rent offer again, he will be handed a court order.
These huge rent reductions aren’t just bad for property and landowners like Martyn - the consequences are actively slowing down the government’s 5G rollout plans.
Graeme, land agent
Graeme in Sedgefield has been a local land agent for 34 years and has negotiated and agreed terms for mobile masts on local landowner's property with operators for more than 25 years.
One of Graeme’s clients earns annual rent of £12,000 from hosting a mobile mast. But mobile operators are trying to reduce this annual rent to just £300.
He is currently in negotiations with a number of operators but fears that they will come back “bullishly and aggressively” to try to force through more reductions in rent.
In all his 25 years of managing mobile masts and dealing with operators, Graeme has never had to resort to court action, but now feels under pressure.
The Mobile Mast Rip-Off means landowners aren’t getting a fair deal - and this is even putting the UK’s 5G rollout plan at risk by slowing it down unnecessarily.