It’s something of an understatement to say that wind turbines are getting bigger. Larger turbines are more efficient as the larger rotor diameters sweep more area, capture more wind and produce more electricity.

The race is on to build a 20MW turbine although it may be some time before we see this size in the UK.

The largest operational wind turbine is the GWH252-16MW model at the Zhangpu Liuao Phase 2 offshore wind farm in the southeastern Fujian Province in China, and came online in July 2023. This 16MW installation has a rotor diameter of 252 metres and a swept area of around 50,000 square metres – the equivalent of seven football pitches. The hub is 146 metres high – as tall as a 50-storey building.

Whereas planned onshore wind turbines in the UK are around 6MW, the Chinese manufacturer Goldwind has developed a 12MW onshore turbine, so the scale of turbines is likely to increase further.

While size brings obvious advantages in power generation and efficiency, transporting the structures to their installation site requires intricate planning by wind farm developers.

The route often requires wind turbines to either ‘oversail’ or overrun third party land. Oversail happens when a turbine swings across the air space of land owned by third parties, while overrun is where the delivery vehicle’s wheels run over land owned by a third party outwith the boundary of the adopted public highway.

It is imperative that these rights are secured by the developer before access is taken, to enable the project to progress.

Landowners affected by these transport considerations are normally paid for the rights across the land to facilitate the development but they need to be sure to receive an appropriate payment, and avoid giving away rights unnecessarily, so they retain the ability to agree terms with another developer who may need to access the same area.

Developers may offer to either purchase the land outright, take a servitude (agreement in perpetuity) or lease over areas of land required for this purpose.

Any landowner approached by a developer should seek advice before entering into any agreement. If the land is to be leased, any contract should properly reflect the specifics of the wind farm development.

A few key points to consider when evaluating such an option are:

  • The extent of the rights to be granted and where those access rights should benefit;
  • The term of the lease and appropriate break rights;
  • What area should be leased and what rights should be granted by ancillary rights of access;
  • The value of the access rights should be linked to the benefit of the project facilitated by the rights of access not the value of the land crossed for the overrun or oversail;
  • The lease should reserve rights for the landowner to grant access rights to other developers without requiring consent from the current developer.

Securing the correct agreement can provide a good income if your land is situated at a pinch point on a transport route. We recommend that early advice is taken from your land agent and other advisers to ensure the best possible return.