To connect my new plot the electric company says it won’t cross 3rd party land. As that is the only way onto the plot (and I have an easement with the landowner to lay services over his land) I challenged this and was then told they will do it but only if they get an easement directly with the 3rd party (i.e. they need consents and wayleaves in place directly between themselves and the 3rd party). They say this is because they retain ownership of the electric cable to my plot (even though I’ve dug the trench and will lay the cable over the 3rd party land) and must have 24×7 access agreed with the 3rd party landowner if e.g. emergency works are required – which seems fair enough in principle.

However this could expose me to being held ransom by the 3rd party to sign-up to a new easement with the electric company and it means I will have to pay legal costs for the easement. Another fear is that every other utility (gas, water, etc.) will require the same independent consents of their own with the 3rd party. So suddenly this opens up fears of ransom, complexity and legal costs.

My solicitor maintains this is incorrect and says “we already have an easement with the 3rd party and that this is one document allowing multiple supply pipes, wires etc. to be laid and maintained along a given route across the 3rd party land and that each service supplier does not need its own easement directly with the 3rd party landowner.”

I would love to believe my solicitor but two people in the electric company have independently told me they must have an easement directly with the 3rd party. I have tried to query further with them but it is like pulling teeth. Basically the professionals can’t agree (but since electric imply they won’t connect me to the mains without the easement they of course will hold all the power – no pun intended).

Crossing of 3rd party land for connections must be very, very common so there must be some very clear and consistent principles established here which should apply to such situations in England. I deparately need clarity on this to know how to proceed as it is casting a large shadow over my project.

Comments
  • Tony Taylor

    Chris,

    Most utility companies will now insist on an agreement directly between them and the land owner, to eliminate the problems they experience gaining access to properties for maintenance or emergency purposes. This can be further exacerbated if you (or the land owner) decide to move in the future and the easement is not correctly carried forward.

    The old Central Networks operator (now bought out by Western Power) used to purchase the wayleave or easement for the cable route for £1 and then just charge the legal fees for searches etc. although these can be £300 or more for each service.

    I think your solicitor is probably correct in thinking that one easement for all the services would be legal, however the utility company have a monopoly on connections to their network and if you want a connection you may have to abide by their rules, regardless of what is legally correct or don’t have a connection.

    I assume you must have a driveway or some other entrance which links to the public highway? You could provide a small, weatherproof, brick enclosure on the boundary, which will house the electricity companies meter, then run your own cable, across the third party land (making use of your existing easement) to your property.

    If you are proposing to run all utilities to your property, you could install all pipes, cables and ducts in the same trench from the property to the boundary, with all the relevant meters installed in the brick enclosure, kind of like a marshalling box. Just take care to ensure each service is separated and protected from frost, vehicle damage etc.

    Hope this helps.

    Tony

  • Vince Holden - Construction Project Manager Holden

    I feel that the point being missed here is that you want/need the utilities company to be responsible for as much of the cable/pipes as possible. Laying your own sub mains etc leaves you wide open to possible future issues which would not be the case if the Electricity board etc bring the services right up to your property (accross the third party land). Weighing up the potential future cost against the peace of mind now to me is worth the small outlay, especially if the owner of the land (third party) is in agreement.

    Vince Holden
    Construction Project Manager
    http://www.holden-management.co.uk

  • Tony Taylor

    Vince,

    You have a very good point, by paying the fee’s associated with the utility supplies, the risk is taken on by the utility companies and not the client.

    My proposal was a technical solution to a problem I have experienced before on another site , which fitted very well. In that instance the utility company were insisting that they dig the trench up to the property (more than 300 metres) at a cost of £1,000 per metre.

    I cannot speak for the water and gas services, but electric and telecoms, if installed correctly , can last a very long time. I have personally tested electric cables more than 50 years old and have found no deterioration or damage, although this is not always the case.

    The best solution would be to arrange for all supplies from the respective utility companies, safe in the knowledge that they are responsible for those supplies and will have to ensure they are available at all times.

    Tony

  • martyn measures

    I have just come accross a similar issue. Did the third party get involved in signing the easement?

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