Category Archive: Environmental

Communication Masts: Success of the Electronic Communications Code

Under the Communications Act 2003 and the Digital Economy Act 2017, the Electronic Communications Code was brought into effect on 28th December 2017 to prove the Government’s pledge towards the digital industry as more and more requirements are to be carried out electronically.

MastsUp until last year, Landowners were able to receive a reasonable rent for masts located upon their land which reflected the value to the Operator. Since the Electronic Communications Code came into effect, there have been many disagreements upon the interpretation of the new regulations. This has had major effects on the way the rent is calculated. It is also thought that the new code does not provide an adequate balance between the rights and interests of Landowners against that of the Operators.

One of the key issues with the new code is that the change in the way the rent is calculated. Previously the rent was ascertained by market value and now the operators are stating that the rent should relate to the value of the land lost.

Very few agreements have been approved since the new code came into effect because of the lack of rent being offered, although the new code rights do allow the Operator to apply to the Court to impose an agreement between the Landowner and the Operator.

A few cases have now been tested in Court and it appears that the Court has ruled in favour of the Operators.

In the case of EE Ltd and H3G UK Ltd v London Borough of Islington, there was a rooftop site, in which EE and H3G wished to relocate their apparatus to another building due to a re-development of the existing building. The Landowner originally requested £21,000 under the old regulations, but the Operator proposed £2,551.77 when the new code was introduced, and the Tribunal ruled in favour of the Operator.

The decision held that the owner of the land is to be compensated for what they have lost.

We argue that the rent, under the new code powers, should be assessed on what the owner is losing not only on the site itself but over the other land of the landlord.

Telecommunication mast rents, especially where located on farms near buildings and houses were let at the rents to reflect the impact that they had on the value and enjoyment of adjacent houses etc.

We therefore contend that each site should be assessed, not only the small area lost to the mast, but also how the mast devalues and effects the rest of the property; be it a farm, house or commercial premises. If you would like to discuss or find out more about the new Electronic Communication Code and your rights with regards to masts, please contact Robyn Peat, James Carruthers or Caroline Horn.

LEADER Funding Available for Rural Communities

The Coast, Wolds, Wetland and Waterways (CWWW) LEADER Programme has re-opened for two weeks from the 4th January 2019 to the 18th January 2019, accepting applications on all six Defra priorities.

Defra Priorities:

  • Support to increase farm productivity
  • Support micro and small farm businesses (non-agricultural) and farm diversification
  • Support rural tourism
  • Provide rural services
  • Provide cultural and heritage activity
  • Support for increasing forestry productivity


What is LEADER?

LEADER is a European Union initiative that encourages economic prosperity or rural areas and improving the quality of life of the communities. The CWWW Leader Programme covers the East Riding of Yorkshire and Southern Ryedale (excluding Bridlington, Goole and Beverly).

Simon Britton, Partner at land, property and business consultancy, George F. White, said: “Access to LEADER funding is fantastic news for the rural communities in the East Riding of Yorkshire Southern Ryedale; it has been an interesting few years in regards to politics and the economy; as we approach our exit from the European Union, it is extremely important that rural communities take advantage of funding opportunities whilst they are still available.”

The project has been closed to new applicants since July 2018 due to a staggering volume of interest, with this in mind, George F. White urge farmers, landowners and business owners to submit their expression of interest in good time to avoid disappointment. The government has guaranteed funding for RDPE LEADER Programme grants if these are agreed and signed before the UK’s departure from the EU (even if the grant agreements continue after we have left the EU), however, it is advised that projects are finished, paid for, and complete grant claims submitted, by 31 March 2019.

Britton added: “This opportunity concentrates on small businesses, farm diversification projects and rural tourism; since the programme opened in 2015, our team have been involved in countless LEADER applications across the North East and Yorkshire with a similar focus. The team have achieved results such as funding for local rugby clubs, holiday accommodation and public animal parks, to name a few. We understand that applying for necessary funding can be a long and complex process, however, many of our team have been raised on farms or in the countryside and are sensitive to the issues and the opportunities that land and property owners and occupiers face in the 21st Century.”

If you have a project that you think would be eligible for the current LEADER fund opportunity, please contact our team on 01677 425301, alternatively, email Simon Britton directly.

Do you know where your drains are?

Or more specifically do you know where your septic tank is and what condition it is in? Asks Ben Lambert, Project Coordinator at George F White.

Being a predominantly rural region, many residential properties have their sewerage handled via septic tanks and soak-aways rather than being on mains drains.  However for many, especially those living in older properties the exact location and condition of their septic tank and the route of the drains and soak-aways leading to and from it may be a mystery.

Ben explains “many older septic tanks which are often brick built can have a number of problems which come about through their age and also lack of maintenance.  The worst case scenario can be caused by a blockage in the drains or soakaways which can cause raw sewerage to back up into the property itself.  This becomes a major issue if the location of the septic tank is unknown, as time is spent locating pipes or tanks, rather than dealing with the actual blockage”.

“Often septic tanks have a concrete slab covering over the main tank, which can be 12 foot in length, five foot wide and up to eight foot deep.  The concrete slab may have broken causing a potential health and safety issue for those that work on the land, this can be made worse by the slabs often being covered in overgrowth, and the hazard lying beneath.”

Ben, whose work often involves managing teams of contractors on jobs as diverse as wind turbine installation through to cottage refurbishment, house improvements as well as blocked drains, has seen many septic tank and drainage systems fail due to lack of maintenance.  This can then lead to costly repairs and renewals.  “Often with old salt glazed pipes, the inflow pipes become blocked up with fat which has been deposited down the drains, but another problems at the other end of the scale is where too many chemicals are used.  These can kill the bacteria working hard to break down the sewerage within the septic tank.”

Larger systems, perhaps those designed for a row of estate cottages, may fall foul (no pun intended) where maintenance obligations are now shared between a number of properties, with no one party taking overall responsibility.

DEFRA and the Environment Agency introduced new rules in January 2015 and have just released guidance for households and businesses with septic tanks and small sewerage treatment plants explaining how the rules simplify the way they are regulated in England, whilst protecting the environment and improving water quality.

The Environment Agency are requesting that households and businesses follow ‘general binding rules’, ensuring that septic tanks :

  • Don’t pollute surface water (eg rivers and lakes) or groundwater
  • Are maintained as instructed by the manufacturer – This includes having your septic tank regularly emptied (‘desludged’).
  • Are only used for domestic sewerage – this is typically waste from toilets, sinks and drains in a home or small business eg a nursing home, guest house or pub.

The Environment Agency also urge those selling their property to inform the buyer that the property has a septic tank and its location.

A permit will be required if your septic tank or treatment plant discharges more than 2,000 litres of effluent a day into the ground through a drainage field, eg an ‘infiltration system’ or it discharges more than 5,000 litres of effluent a day into surface water, eg a river, stream or estuary.  (You can’t usually get a permit for a new septic tank that discharges into water).

Ben mentions that “the Environment Agency will investigate septic tanks that are not working well.  Often soak aways are blocked or the pipes are broken and the problem arises on neighbouring property or straight into water courses.  By knowing where your sewerage system is, maintaining it and following the Environment Agency’s guidance you not only reduce the likelihood of blockages and repairs, yet should the worst happen, you are then able  to show the Environment Agency that you have followed their guidance.”

Ben concludes that “really what is under the ground needs as much or more attention to what you see above the ground.  Septic tanks should be cleared off of undergrowth and fenced off, rodding points should be kept clear and householders should understand their maintenance obligations and their rights of access to maintain their septic tank if it is located on another’s land.  The consequences are not pleasant, and as these systems become older and fall into disrepair I foresee much more time and money spent in replacing systems rather than just maintaining.”

If you would like to discuss the above our require advice please contact Ben Lambert – 01665 511982

A few thoughts from Rob Ord, Agronomist for MSP Agriculture

Harvest is upon us – despite the lack of sunshine winter barleys and rapes are turning hard.  With mixed reports over yields and quality from further south, the winter and late spring has produced some very uneven crops and with the lack of sunshine specific weights will be down on last year.  There’s still time for some of the wheats that look heavy and the later sown spring barleys look well too.

This year has been challenging for grass weed control; spray windows have been tight and condensed with some crops suffering in early spring. Now is a good opportunity to have a look at fields to see where the problems lie.  Aerial drone photos have been proving helpful when doing this.  Mapping the field with drone deploy applications and taking photos throughout the season with a NDVI infra-red camera has given a detailed overview of issues in each field.  Rotation and cultural controls are key to controlling these grass weeds in arable rotations and decisions need to be made or changed if problem grasses such as brome and black grass are getting dominant in the field.  Pre emerge sprays in the autumn, Kerb on WOSR, and follow ups in the spring on wheats will help with control but crop selection, tillage and spray timings will play a huge part.  We have seen an increased change into spring cropping in the south year on year to try and combat these weeds with more ploughing and break crops being introduced.  Good housekeeping at harvest time will also help such as blowing down sprayers, combines and balers to prevent spread of grass weeds from field to field and farm to farm.   After seeing a bit of BYDV about in some of the spring crops this year, seed treatment Redigo deter or insecticide spray on early established crops will be important in the back end.  Slug populations are high this year due to elevated winter temperatures so keep a close eye on vulnerable situations.

Organic matter and soil fertility is more and more important as margins are squeezed.  Mixed farming gives the best results and grass moved around the rotation when possible is important for both weed control and organic matter.  In arable situations and where grass is not an option, break crops and cover crops are being used for increasing organic matter.  Mixes of radish, vetches, mustard, clovers and other green crops aerate the soil, fix nitrogen and increase organic matter.  This results in increased overall microbial activity of the soil, benefiting crop production.

With values of cereals and pulses low, although slight worries over French harvest means we have seen a lift this week, there is a push to cut cost of production were possible.  Wheat variety choice is key to this when disease pressures are high and spray windows are few and far between.  KWS Lili has looked well all year along with Zulu, which I think will still be popular choices for the coming season.  KWS Siskin will also be popular, even in the north, with high yields and a potential for a premium.  Barrel is a new one this season, along with Basset, which both looked good in trials, performing well in the north and proving good wheats on light ground.  Choosing good resistant varieties that suit your farm will mean better control of disease and less pressure to get spay timings perfect if weather conditions hinder spraying.

This is a guest article written by Rob Ord of  MSP Agriculture –  email: