The complex wayleave process is well-known throughout the telecoms industry. It’s something we’re committed to trying to simplify and speed up so build projects never stall and communities can be swiftly connected.
So, when an ambitious plan arrives with the aim of providing around 80,000 homes with full-fibre coverage, there’s no question there will a lot of challenges and opportunities to face head-on when it comes to ensuring all legal documentation is in place.
That was exactly the brief one of the UK’s largest network providers WightFibre set – connecting the Isle of Wight.
Known as WightFibre’s Gigabit Island project, the operation is well over the halfway mark – with 460km of trenches dug to date and service to be made available to 60,000 premises by the end of the year. To discuss the complex build plan in a little more detail, WightFibre’s CEO, John Irvine, explains why swift wayleave agreements have helped the roll-out progress.
When drawing up plans to connect an entire Island, we knew we’d have a challenge on our hands to negotiate with a number of parties and keep the project firmly on-track. From daily checks of the Land Registry to seeking various wayleave permissions with private landowners, the Isle of Wight Council, the Maritime Management Organisation and Crown Estates, the potential bottlenecks have been apparent throughout.
Not to mention the added hurdle of laying new fibre optic cable across the River Yar – a stage of the roll-out which involved extensive public consultation and close liaison with Natural England to ensure our work was carried out outside of breeding and nesting times for wildlife, and ensured reduced environmental impact.
The decisions we’ve had to make in real-time have been critical in terms of Gigabit Island’s progress. However, we knew that if we could get wayleaves in place at the earliest opportunity, it would help to keep things on-track.
Throughout the telecoms industry, managing these complex agreements are difficult, time consuming and manually intensive. It takes a lot of tenacity and legal nous to get consents – from application stage all the way through to completion.
To do this without a wayleave specialist in place would have slowed our progress.
A collaborative approach to full-fibre connectivity
That’s where WightFibre’s relationship with Trenches Law has been vital. Daily communication has meant we’ve felt safe in the knowledge that legal negotiations with various parties were being handled expertly. In turn, we’ve used our time to focus on critical tasks such as listening to – and acting on – community feedback, making important alterations to improve our build plan, and addressing any issues at the earliest opportunity.
As a result, we’ve connected tens of thousands of premises already and the team has already helped us reduce Limits of Construction (LOC) from approximately 38% to 21% across the Island – increasing the number of buildable premises from 41,000 to 61,000.
Additionally, we’ve joined forces to speak to the community about Gigabit Island. Working closely with Trenches Law’s Wayleave Liaison Manager, and Isle of Wight resident, Carole Lee, we’ve talked to people face-to-face and alleviated any fears they might’ve had about roads being dug up.
Such communication has allowed for the reduction of any potential bottlenecks, and we’ve remained open and honest about the full-fibre project’s progress with customers – receiving their support in return.
A respected relationship helping to connect communities
Today, we outsource all our permissions to Trenches Law. It’s been a long-standing partnership that’s been collaborative and trusted since day one. Our team knows that if they have any legal questions, someone will be able to help them, and we can adjust our plans to allow for a better outcome.
For us, Trenches Law recognises, assesses and mitigates risk in a way that an ordinary lawyer simply could not do. The team continues to play a huge role in helping WightFibre connect the Isle of Wight.
Overall, WightFibre’s Gigabit Island project is a significant civil engineering development and includes 600km of trenches being dug, containing 5 million metres of duct and 750 million metres of fibre-optic cable alone.
None of that could be made possible without a seamless wayleave process in place.
Any operator or developer embarking on their next connectivity project – no matter how complex – should never overlook the importance of obtaining these legal agreements at the earliest possible stage. If they do, their plans could come to a grinding halt before they’ve even got off the ground. These wayleaves sometimes take many months – and sometimes years – to achieve, and so an early start is imperative.
Does your organisation require wayleave expertise to support your business growth? We ensure telecoms operators and resellers are able to deliver their build plans faster and within budget via specialist wayleave services. Find out more here. Alternatively call: 01256 856 888 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.