CLA Wales is calling on the National Grid to take urgent action
to help farmers and landowners whose lives have been blighted by
the pipeline which will carry liquefied gas from Milford Haven
Work on the £750 million project is continuing in wet and
muddy conditions that make it all the more disruptive for many
of those involved (the Grantors) as their agents are experiencing
considerable difficulty in settling interim claims for compensation.
CLA regional director Jonathan Andrews says it is unacceptable
that an organisation such as National Grid cannot seem to organise
its payment structure. Farmers along the stretch of pipeline from
Milford Haven to Swansea have co-operated with the project, despite
personal misgivings and have been very poorly treated.
"I am very unhappy indeed about the way our members, and indeed
farmers throughout the area are being treated", he said. "We
are talking about very big sums of money and it's imperative that
people are paid for the very real disruption and upset they are
being caused – quite apart from the blight on their farms
and the negative effect on equity.
"We have to remember that farmers work extremely hard to keep
their land in good order. They take a pride in their contribution
to our wonderful Welsh landscape, and indeed they are now proscribed
by European rules from creating a mess while caring for their livestock.
"Yet they are having to stand back and watch as fields are
ripped up and shafts sunk. There is a particular problem where
there are easements for river and road crossings. It had been said
before construction started and in the early negotiation stages
that there would be no winter working but the contractors are having
to press on so as not to let the project overrun and incur penalties.
"The National Grid is contractually obliged to start delivering
gas in October 2007 and if they fail could incur up to £36million
in fines by September 2008. Ofgem can start imposing penalties
at £2 million for the first month and increase incrementally.
"You can see that we are talking huge sums of money and I
cannot see why our members are not being properly and promptly
compensated as they are co-operating so well in helping to get
this project driven through on time."
Mr Andrews was speaking following a meeting of Agents representing
farmers and landowners with National Grid, called by Edward Perkins
in Carmarthen. He said the consensus was that the lack of interim
payments smacked of ineptitude. Those concerned should contact
their Agents or the local CLA office.
Farmers fail to plan for the future, report warns
Farming expert joins Ward Hadaway
CLA response to announcement of Uplands Entry Level Stewardship
NFU Report makes the case for 21st century farming