Your rights on utility companies and private individuals looking to enter your land

11th October 2019
Headshot of Kivells Ian Caunter

Ian Caunter BSc (Hons) MRICS FAAV, Rural Chartered Surveyor, Exeter Office

Service cables and pipelines criss-cross the countryside and with the increase in population, the requirement to establish and implement new services is often the case. Time and time again we see landowners and farmers unfairly compensated with utility companies taking advantage when entering land. The question remains – what is your position when either a utility company or private individual is looking to enter your land?

The most common occurrence is when a utility company needs to access your land, often in relation to the installation or maintenance of various equipment such as electricity power lines, water/sewer or gas pipe lines. In the south west the likely companies are Western Power Distribution for electric, South West Water for water and sewers and National Grid or Wales and West Utilities for gas.

In many circumstances utility companies benefit from a range of statutory powers applied via various acts throughout the 1980’s or 1990’s. These statutory powers are only often called upon if the land owner and the entering company is not able to come to an agreement on access arrangements. With the statutory legislation acting as a fall back position in case of any dispute or lack of agreement. It is imperative that agreements are not made that could have a negative impact on your position further down the line.

A large proportion of legislation that allows a certain utility company to take entry onto land often provides for legislation in paying compensation to the land owner/occupier, in particular for any loss sustained as a result of the necessary works required. It is important to establish that this includes employing a surveyor to act on your behalf and negotiate with the incoming company, whereby assessment can be made on any compensation required and indeed any payments due to the implementation of new apparatus. This enables and ensures that the land owner is fairly considered.

An ever increasing situation is where a private individual approaches you to install either a private electricity or water supply in order to benefit their property. When this position arises it is unlikely they have any legislation backing their requirement. Therefore the decision on whether you want to allow access onto your land is down to a matter of negotiation and agreement. Having decided that you are intent with a private individual accessing your land to implement such apparatus, it is important that the terms of exactly what is going to be implemented including any access arrangements and further maintenance and reinstatement are agreed formally. Thus it is strongly advised any installation takes the form of a legally formed document, often in the case of an easement. In relation to private individuals requesting any of the above, it is important to state that in certain circumstances a private individual can approach a utility company to use their statutory powers for entry to install and supply and also consider alternative routes.

In summary, allowing utilities onto your land is often unavoidable, however you do have rights and it is recommended that in all circumstances you take professional advice. Here at Kivells, we have a team of dedicated agricultural valuers which are more than willing and have a vast experience in dealing with situations as explained above.

Ian Caunter BSc (Hons) MRICS FAAV
Rural Chartered Surveyor
Exeter Office