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Overhead lines not overhead costs

Poppy Baggott explains the benefits of engaging an intermediary when faced with utility maintenance work.

Water, light, heat and transport are all commodities which we enjoy and often take for granted.

Their continued efficiency and supply rely on a vast infrastructure of lines, pipes, poles, pylons, rails and roads across the country which, for most people, form the backdrop of everyday life. Maintenance works and upgrades are essential, and it is at this point that those involved, either by proximity or land ownership, can be confronted with daunting quantities of people and paperwork.

Large areas of Scotland are currently undergoing works to replace or renew overhead power lines, and many landowners may find themselves having to liaise with contractors and sub-contractors. Undoubtedly this will raise concerns about access and the resulting disturbance as well as potential crop loss on their land. It is almost impossible for ground works to be carried out without some adverse impact on the surrounding land, so appropriate measures need to be taken and agreed in advance.

In most instances, utility providers will cover surveyors' fees for handling negotiations and liaising on behalf of those involved.

The following terms are indicative of a basic claim for farmland, in the case of electricity poles having to be replaced:

Area of land damaged: Although infrequent, some physical impairment may occur during the works, such as damage to field drains, gates or boundary walls. Utility providers usually take reasonable steps to prevent any damage and will ordinarily rectify any caused, or make provision for the farmer to carry out the repairs with the cost being accounted for in the compensation claim. 

Loss of crops: This could be an arable crop or grass, either way, the loss will have a value. For example, if it was a 100% loss over the damaged area, then the claim would be worked out on a /acre basis, with the value dependent on the crop grown.

Claimants' time: All claimants should keep a record of the time which they spend in connection with the works. This could be in meetings with the agent and contractors, agreeing terms, viewing damage or arranging remedial works. At the conclusion of the works, a claim for time can then be submitted alongside crop loss and any other compensation resultant from damage caused as a result of the works.

The above reflects the most basic heads of claim, but often the works can grow arms and legs. However, it is possible to ensure that you are adequately compensated, while in turn working with the utility providers, who are required continually to maintain, repair and renew the infrastructures from which we all benefit.

Utility companies are keen to be on good terms with landowners, so engaging an agent as the intermediary provides a bridge, keeping lines of communication open as well as helping to secure appropriate compensation.

CKD Galbraith's team of professionals has the expertise to assist with the utility provider's approach and arrange for proper compensation to be paid - with the added benefit that the landowner does not incur any professional fees as a result.