The amendment to the Infrastructure Bill introducing a new Electronic Communications Code has been withdrawn by Secretary of State Patrick McLoughlin. DCMS are proposing to go back into industry consultation with the new “code” in March.

Our detailed analysis of the new Code prior its withdrawal from the Infrastructure Bill can be viewed here - The New Code

The press release from the British Property Federation sums up the position well:

Property industry frustrated at handling of Infrastructure Bill

A last minute withdrawal of the Electronic Communications Code (“ECC”) from the Infrastructure Bill has caused the British Property Federation (“BPF”) to voice frustration at what might have been.

Despite harbouring concerns about some provisions within the Code, the BPF praised it for being broadly very sensible, and would now like to see it subjected to a full period of consultation before being drawn up and enacted.

The government had tabled a fifty-nine page amendment to the Infrastructure Bill, introducing an updated version of the ECC, during the final stages of its passage through Parliament. A number of organisations and MPs voiced their concerns over this arrangement, as it left little time for debate and stakeholder consultation. Today, the amendment was withdrawn by Secretary of State Patrick McLoughlin.

Provisions in the Code which could have adversely affected landlords included a new right for telecoms providers to sub-let sites and a new right for the Secretary of State to amend market valuations for sites. The BPF worked with Parliamentarians to get amendments tabled in relation to these concerns.

Ian Fletcher, Director of Policy, British Property Federation, added: “Introducing a fifty-nine page amendment into a Bill so late in the day is almost unheard off and was always likely to raise a few eyebrows. No doubt the government’s intentions were well-meaning, and with a little bit of forewarning and consultation with Parliament and stakeholders today’s withdrawal could have been avoided.

“We hope to see government begin a full consultation period for the ECC soon, and to work with them to ensure that this much improved version of the Code is debated fully and turned into law in the correct way.”