The government is consulting on the current land rights and consents processes for electricity network infrastructure, with the closing date for an expression of views being 15 September 2022.

In order to put together a comprehensive response to the Department for Business, Energy (Industrial Strategy (BEIS), we want to hear from you first, and what you think of the current process.

Why is it important to share your views?

Being connected to the electricity grid is easy to take for granted. However, anyone who has had to secure a grid connection knows that this can be a very challenging, expensive and time consuming process.

Electricity network companies are often perceived to be ‘holding up’ the process of energising a development. One of the major complaints centres on the need for these statutory undertakers to formally obtain the legal right to retain apparatus on their customer’s land.

This land rights regime requires landowners to negotiate a wayleave or an easement with the network operator. It has a number of similarities to gas networks, but is significantly different to telecommunications or water.

For the UK to reach net zero emissions by 2050, the entire grid needs to undergo a series of drastic changes. These are estimated to require an additional 600,000km of electrical cables to be installed over the next 28 years. For context, the UK’s grid currently consists of around 800,000km of cables.

This unprecedented increase in demand for infrastructure could lead to a significant relaxation in the protections afforded to landowners, as network operators are given additional statutory rights to install and maintain apparatus in third party land.

How the reform could be a welcomes change

Peter Dilks, head of our pioneering networks team, is hopeful that this could however result in the welcome refresh of a system which often makes connections more difficult and more time consuming than they need to be.

He said: “This consultation is welcomed and long overdue. The land rights process in the UK can run extremely smoothly with swift energisation, but it can also be fraught with delays and a lack of accountability, leading to inconsistency of the completion of land rights and energisation of sites. By bringing together network operators, developers, contractors and funders, we know that these issues can be easily overcome.

Whilst additional statutory protections for network operators could help the process, this needs to be balanced against the commercial considerations of individual developments. A ‘one-size fits all’ approach is unlikely to be appropriate.

We also shouldn’t underestimate the benefits of the land rights process for overseas investment, as the UK’s system of land registration gives certainty and clarity to those wishing to back infrastructure development in the UK, which will be critical to ensuring that the ambitious targets set are achieved.

We have amassed detailed data on thousands of transactions over the past few years as to what causes delays in the land rights process, and we look forward to adding our insights to this consultation”

How to get involved

To ensure that you don’t miss this opportunity to make your views heard, we would love to hear from you – please get in touch with the team before 15 September 2022.

Written By

Published: 23rd August 2022
Area: Energy

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Peter prides himself on delivering results for clients, who value his commercial experience as much as his real estate legal expertise.

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