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Stackyard News Dec 06

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National Grid Hasn't Paid Pipeline Farmers

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 to Gloucester.

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.

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