Virgin Media and Durham County Council have reached an amicable agreement on land access terms, allowing work to resume on the network expansion in the county.
The agreement was reached prior to the case being heard by the Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber), meaning that the UK provider will have to pay only £1 for land access to the areas which were under dispute.
Virgin Media had previously issued legal proceedings against Durham County Council to test the reforms in the updated Electronic Communications Code (ECC), which were designed to speed up the rollout of broadband and mobile network upgrades (see Virgin Media takes legal action against Durham Council over increased fees). The agreement between the two parties resolves any future discussions regarding the laying of fibre optic cable in grass verges that run alongside public pathways across the county.
Speaking on the outcome, Tom Mockridge, CEO of Virgin Media, commented: ‘This agreement with Durham sets a much-needed precedent which will speed up broadband rollout and encourage investment. We hope that other local authorities and landowners now follow Durham’s example. Most importantly, this is fantastic news for the residents and businesses of Durham as we can now continue the good work we started with Durham Country Council and bring a real broadband boost to local communities across the county.’
Added: Durham County Council’s head of planning and assets, Stuart Timmiss: ‘Following the reforms it was important that, as a local authority, we were able to test and understand the implications of the new code. Working closely with Virgin Media and our legal team we are happy to be able to move forward in ensuring our businesses and communities can benefit from superfast broadband.’