The answer to the above question is……..it depends on who it is that wants to come onto your land.
The most common occurrence of where someone needs to access your land is in relation to the installation or maintenance of utility company equipment such as electricity power lines, water / sewer and gas pipelines. The above are all examples of utility companies and in the Gloucestershire and Worcestershire areas they are likely to be Western Power Distribution for electric, Severn Trent for water and sewers and National Grid or Wales and West Utilities for gas.
Utility companies generally benefit from a range of statutory powers to enter land which has been conveyed to them mainly through the Electricity Act 1989, Water Industry Act 1991 and the Gas Act 1986. In reality these powers are used to varying degrees and are all subject to the meeting of certain conditions and the serving the necessary notices. Notwithstanding the legislation a great deal of access arrangements are dealt with by agreement with landowners whilst using the statutory position as the fall back in case of dispute. Acting in this way can often have benefits for both parties but care must be taken to ensure that you do not agree to something that might prejudice your position at a later date. Importantly the installation of site compounds is not covered by legislation and can only be a matter of private agreement.
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.
Private Individuals / Companies
Where a private individual approaches to install a private water or electricity supply for instance, then they do not have the backing of any legislation. Therefore whether or not you let them onto your land is a matter of negotiation and agreement. Assuming agreement, it is important that the terms of exactly what is permitted including any maintenance and access arrangements are agreed and formally recorded for the benefit of future owners of the land and beneficiaries of the water / electric supply. For permanent installations this usually takes the form of a legally documented easement.
As part of the negotiation process it is important to consider that in some instances a private individual can approach the utility company to use their statutory powers for entry to install a supply and to also consider any alternative routes that could be taken. The facts of the case can then give you a “back stop” of how hard you can push in any negotiations.
Allowing access to your land may be unavoidable however you do have rights and you should take advice if you are at all unsure of the situation or the impacts of any potential project. In most cases it won’t cost you anything either.
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.