Top five actions to take when faced with electricity infrastructure projects on your land

Davidson & Robertson Alasdair Allan Top five actions to take when faced with electricity infrastructure projects on your land

Many farmers and landowners are going to be affected by the significant upgrades to electricity infrastructure, but not everyone knows what to do when the first official letter drops through the door.

There are several ongoing consultations in the North East of Scotland about the new overhead lines, which are all at various stages. There are plenty more underway or in the pipeline across Ayrshire, Renfrewshire, Central Scotland, the Borders and in England relating to new lines and the renewal of existing lines. The impact on land is already causing great debate, but for those affected, it is important to understand what to do first.

Timescales and consultation deadlines change, so those potentially affected need to be aware of modifications. If farmers and landowners are impacted by these projects, they will likely have received notification already.

“The next steps are crucial, but not always clear and time is of the essence,” says Alasdair Allan, Senior Associate, who leads a team focused on infrastructure projects at Davidson & Robertson (D&R). “The best opportunity for landowners and tenants to negotiate better terms on these matters is at the outset of the project, before signing any paperwork. Projects are often long and protracted, so it is important to consider wider impacts and any potential unforeseen consequences that may impede existing, and future alternative uses of the property.

For those affected, we have drawn up a list of the top five key things that they need to consider as soon as notification is received are:

Appoint or get in touch with your Land Agent as soon as you know your land will be impacted by the works. The earlier a Land Agent is engaged to represent you, the more scope they have to achieve the best outcome for your business. You are likely to have reasonable professional advice costs covered by the electricity company, which means you can receive professional advice from the earliest stage and throughout the development process to ensure that you are fairly represented and fully compensated.

Do not sign anything until you have taken advice as this could result in you missing out on compensation. You are entitled to professional advice as part of this process, and it’s crucial to take this up before signing any consents or agreements. Our experience and expert industry knowledge enable us to negotiate on our client’s behalf to ensure they are being compensated fully in all areas.

Mitigate losses – You are responsible for ensuring that all losses, disturbances, and costs incurred as a result of the works are mitigated as far as possible, where reasonable to do so. With this in mind, it is vital that you understand how the proposed works will impact you and your land, and you need to mitigate the impact as much as possible.

Know your rights – a good Land Agent will advise fully on what your rights and options are and will be able to explain exactly what is expected of you, so the earlier you engage the better. Not everyone knows the extent of what can be claimed, so they can clarify that for you – as a general rule, claims fall under five key considerations which are: loss of land use, disturbance, reinstatement, client time, and in some cases, injurious affection.

Record your time – your time is valuable – keep a detailed diary of the time you spend talking with statutory undertakers, with your Land Agent, and in accommodating the works so that this can be fully compensated. This is an area often overlooked by farmers but is a very valid claim.”

Whilst the electricity companies do have statutory powers allowing them to construct new lines, in many situations there is often much that can be negotiated, sometimes in terms of routing of the line/siting of pylons, but certainly on compensation packages and mitigation measures. They also have the right to take access to their existing infrastructure for maintenance purposes, but again there is much to be agreed in advance of permitting entry.

Once the works are completed, the electricity company is duty-bound to reinstate the land back to its’ previous state, to the landowner/tenant’s reasonable satisfaction. It can sometimes take several years for land to get back to full production and, up until that point, compensation can be claimed to ensure that farmers are not left any worse off as a result of the works.

D&R has a specialist utilities, energy and infrastructure team that is well-versed in providing advice on access agreements, wayleaves and servitudes, mitigation of impacts and compensation claims. It is a great resource to tap into and very reassuring to know the team has dealt with similar projects throughout Scotland and Northern England.

Partnering with NFUS, Davidson & Robertson offers a free helpline to NFUS members, providing advice on rights and next steps to those impacted – call 0131 609 9717.

For more information on infrastructure projects affecting your land, contact Alasdair Allan at the D&R Edinburgh office on 0131 449 6212 or email


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