The most common occurrence of when someone needs to access your land is in relation to the installation or the maintenance of a utility company’s equipment such as water pipelines. Within Worcestershire and Gloucestershire the main water company will be Severn Trent and for places like Hereford and Ross on Wye it will be Welsh Water.

Legislation such as the Water Industry Act 1991 gives utility companies a range of statutory powers allowing them to access land. These powers are used to varying degrees and are all subject to meeting certain conditions and serving the necessary notices. However, a great deal of access arrangements can be dealt with by agreement between the utility company and the land owner, whilst using the statutory position as the fall back in case of dispute. Acting in this way can often benefit both parties but care must be taken to ensure that you do not agree with something that might prejudice your position at a later date.

Importantly, the majority of the legislation that allows a utility company to take entry onto land also provides the requirement for them to pay compensation to the land owner / occupier for any losses sustained as a result of the works. This includes employing a surveyor to act on your behalf to deal with the company and to assess and submit a claim for compensation. It may seem odd that the utility has to pay for someone that may make their life more difficult, but that is the law. It is designed to ensure that the landowner is fairly looked after.

Frequently asked questions;

  1. There is a new housing development being built nearby and it is proposed that the water supply and sewerage goes through my land, do I have to agree?

Assuming that the water company has served reasonable notice (typically three months), there is a limited ground for objection. If an agreement cannot be reached the company can used their statutory powers to access the land regardless.

  1. I already have existing pipe under my land, what rights do utility companies have?

Existing pipes may be the subject of a formal deed, setting out the rights and liabilities of the parties, or will be protected by statute. Others may have gained the right to use them simply because they have been doing so for a long time (as with public rights of way). In almost all cases no payment will be due for an existing water or sewer pipe.

  1. What can I claim for?

A payment should be negotiated for the pipe itself and should broadly cover the agreed proportion of the value of the land affected by the scheme, rather than simply the land where the pipe lies. There can be additional payments for:

  • Manhole, chambers and valves
  • Current and future crop loss
  • Cost if restoring land, fences, hedges and gates
  • Reductions/penalties for Basic Payment Scheme and Environmental Schemes

Please contact us if you are affected by any utility work or are approached by anyone wanting to use your land for their benefit. We can ensure that your interests are looked after and that any payments that are offered to you are commensurate with what you are giving away.