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Stackyard News Dec 2012

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Covering All Bases When Allowing Utility Access

Problems with utility company access to land appear to be a recurring theme for farmers at present. A large number of farmers and landowners are being approached by companies who require access over land in order to replace one or more telegraph poles. While this seems a straightforward request problems have arisen whereby there may be more to granting access than first meets the eye.

Tim Sedgewick of H&H Land and Property

Tim Sedgewick of H&H Land and Property

Tim Sedgewick of H&H Land and Property explains the importance of covering all bases to protect yourself and your assets when agreeing these arrangements.

“In several cases unaddressed correspondence has been left on the farm, containing a name, number and a sketched plan highlighting the telegraph poles to be replaced. The letter requests a signature to authorise the relevant company access over your land to replace faulty poles.”

At this time of the year, particularly following a difficult growing season, newly sown crops are struggling to establish in rain sodden ground. Granting access may hinder growth further and it is therefore vital both parties have a thorough understanding of the access proposed before entry is granted. If your crop is badly damaged as a result of access, any compensation for crop loss should include what it would cost to replace it. There may also be issues of future loss particularly on pasture. Many compensation claims only detail what the lost arable product would be sold for yet should include establishment costs such as seed, labour and machinery.

Whilst it is important that rotten telegraph poles are replaced, farmers and landowners should seek professional advice before signing such proposals. In almost all circumstances the utility company will pay your professional fees in having instructed a surveyor/land agent to act on your behalf.

Tim concluded;

“There are other factors to consider: What price do farmers place on their time for dealing with such utility contractors? How much reinstatement will be required after the works? How much damage will be caused to the land? Are there any issues with livestock? Does the damage affect my SPS claim? These are all vital questions which need comprehensive consideration before permitting access”.

For more information contact Tim at H&H Land and Property’s Durham based office on 0191 370 8530.

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