Electricity lines, water pipes and to a lesser extent gas pipes owned by the utility companies are common place on rural properties. Much of the infrastructure is aging and at capacity already meaning that pipe bursts, repair works and equipment upgrades are frequently required in order to keep the networks going. On top of this we are also seeing the increase in demand for utilities in some areas as a result of the large amount of residential development being consented. All of these things together mean that there is every chance that one of the utilities may come knocking on your door wanting to access your land to carry out some sort of work to their existing apparatus or to install some new apparatus.
Which Utility companies are out there?
In Gloucestershire and Worcestershire the main utility companies that we will be dealing with are Severn Trent and Thames Water on the water and sewage side; Western Power Distribution and SSE as district electricity network operators (DNOs); and Wales and West Utilities as the district gas network operator. We also deal with National Grid for both the national electric and gas transmission lines and also the Environment Agency for various flood prevention schemes. All these utilities generally have statutory powers of entry onto land under their relevant legislation (eg the Water Industries Act 1991 (water and sewers), Electricity Act 1989 or Gas Act 1986) although these powers of entry are not always used.
What can the Utility Company do?
The statutory provisions afforded by the relevant acts are all slightly different but are often used as the “fall back” position if access can’t be agreed by negotiation in the first place. Whilst a simple notice procedure is generally all that is required by a water company, the likes of a gas company or electricity company would need to follow more of a time consuming compulsory purchase process or necessary wayleave procedure respectively. As you might expect, in some circumstances, the time and costs to the utility of using the statutory provisions can be long and expensive and therefore they will often be keen to negotiate access by agreement instead. This is where it is usually beneficial to employ an experienced professional to act for you so that they can negotiate the best terms on your behalf in the full understanding of what the alternative “back stop” options are to the utility. Furthermore, the professional will be able to assist in quantifying any losses you suffer as a result of the scheme as part of a compensation claim be it loss in land value, damage to your land or general time spent as a result of the scheme. As part of the compensation package due to you, reasonable professional fees will also be paid by the utility company meaning that there is no financial loss to you for taking the right advice (only a potential financial gain!). As such please make sure you take advantage of your rights and ensure you are properly represented if a utility company comes knocking!
What can Carver Knowles do?
Carver Knowles are ideally placed to deal with the multitude of schemes that are currently happening around the Three Counties and Cotswolds. We have an excellent understanding of both the legislation and also the practical farming implications of a scheme allowing us to consider every factor and prepare a robust compensation claim. Also we won’t back down… Please read our Top Tips on how to deal with a scheme here.
Current and Recent Carver Knowles involvement:
- Multiple water and sewage leaks compensation claims throughout Gloucestershire and Worcestershire
- Installation of new large water main south of Gloucester
- Installation of a new gas main near Cheltenham by Wales and West Utilities
- Laying of a new high voltage cable by Western Power south of Gloucester
- Compensation for damage caused by Western Power as a result of minor network alterations (various locations)
- Negotiating the undergrounding of SSE electricity wires in the Cotswolds
- Installation of a new Thames Water main in the North Cotswolds
- Negotiating a permanent easement for a National Grid electricity pylon in Gloucestershire
- EA acquisition of a flood bank area in Worcestershire
- Compulsory purchase for a road scheme near Worcester