Utility companies need to move power, water and gas around the country for the benefit of us all and they do so predominantly over farmland. For the majority of the time, these often-unsightly pieces of national or local infrastructure go unnoticed. However, issues can arise when they affect plans for development or extensions to farm yards, or when low power cables become an issue.

When alterations are needed, the first port of call is to establish under what rights the utility company occupies your land. Is it a wayleave or an easement, or is there no agreement in place at all? The utility company may have equipment installed on your property with no written agreement in place.

We have been involved in several cases recently where we have successfully buried 11,000kV cables, in one case due to an extension to a farm yard and in another case where a client was moving to boom irrigation from a rain gun. In both of these cases, we reviewed and established the rights the electrical company had over our client’s land and then successfully had the cables buried at minimal cost to our client – in one case by altering the wayleave agreement and in the other case, by the granting of a new easement.

If you have electrical cables that you would like to have moved or removed from your property, there is no silver bullet but we will happily help you establish what current rights the utility company has over your land and advise if and how your situation may be remedied.

On a separate note but still of significance, is monitoring the safety of electrical cables that are installed on your property. The Energy Networks Association’s ‘Safety Information for Farmers & Agricultural Contractors’ states that  cables should be maintained at a height of 5.2m, however live equipment fitted to poles maybe as low as 4.3m. Cables hanging too low may only become apparent if there is a change in farming practise, for example a change of farming contractor where larger combines or forage harvesters are used that almost reach the 11,000kV infrastructure. Every year there are electrical incidents and thousands of near-misses which could have been avoided. It’s important to note that is a farmer’s responsibility for contractors and employees even if the cables are low.

If low cables are an issue, it is always best to discuss with the local DNO to try and resolve the situation. In Shropshire, the DNO is Western Power Distribution. Howie, Kent & Co are happy to advise and deal with your local wayleave officer on your behalf.