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Helpline for farmers with utility infrastructure issues is a ‘great resource’ – D&R – Agriland.co.uk

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Davidson & Robertson (D&R) has partnered with the National Farmers’ Union of Scotland (NFUS) to support members on utility infrastructure issues, and a helpline has proved a “great resource”.

D&R director, Ian Austin, said the helpline provides advice on rights and next steps to those impacted by infrastructure issues.

D&R and NFUS said they have seen high demand for support on utility infrastructure issues due to the growing number of projects across Scotland, ranging from electricity upgrades and energising rail lines to new water pipeline plans.

The Affinity Partnership between D&R and NFUS was launched at AgriScot in November and aims to support NFUS members when statutory undertakers like Scottish Power Energy Networks (SPEN), Scottish and Southern Electricity(SSE), Scottish Water, or Network Rail need to do work on their land.

The latest consultation announcement from Scottish Power Energy Networks (SPEN) has recently been launched, detailing the preferred route for a new 132kv overhead line connecting the proposed Cloich Forest Wind Farm, near Eddleston in Peeblesshire, to the substation at Currie.

The preferred corridor has been made public with SPEN seeking feedback during the consultation period which ends on Monday, June 17, 2024.

NFUS rural business policy advisor, Rhianna Montgomery, said the union is seeing a growing number of concerns amongst its membership about utilities and infrastructure projects impacting their land and businesses.

“These have a significant effect on farmers’ businesses through the need for access by the statutory undertakers, damage to crops and property, and ultimately time spent addressing all of these issues,” she said.

“Davidson & Robertson provides valuable expertise in utilities and infrastructure claims through their helpline, providing 15 minutes of free advice to all members.”

Austin said D&R’s specialist utilities, energy and infrastructure team are “well versed” in providing advice on access agreements, wayleaves and servitudes, crop loss and compensation.

Impacts on farmers

D&R director, Austin, said the push to net zero has resulted in a requirement to upgrade the national electrical network.

“National Grid has stated that over the next seven years (from 2023), five times the level of electrical infrastructure built in the last 30 years will need to be built,” he said.

D&R said this is set to impact huge numbers of farmers across the country.

“Through the NFUS members helpline, we are already talking to members who are concerned about the effect on their land and who want to understand more fully their rights and options,” Austin said.

“We are also able to explain what can be claimed for and can support them in making that claim so that they’re properly compensated.

“It is worth highlighting that you are likely to have reasonable professional advice costs covered by the Statutory Undertaker.

“It means you can receive professional advice from the earliest stage in the process to ensure that the effects of the scheme can be mitigated, and you are fully compensated, potentially without costs to yourselves.”

Helpline

The NFUS helpline relates to work on all infrastructure and utility works.

There is also significant activity on rail lines across Scotland, as Network Rail energises their lines, D&R said.

“To achieve this, they need temporary access to adjacent land – which is achieved through voluntary access via negotiation,” the rural property consultancy said.

If affected, you are entitled to advice, and it is important to take this up as soon as you receive notification.

“The earlier a team is engaged to represent you, the more scope they have to negotiate the best outcome for your business, with the least little impact and the best level of compensation possible.”

On Scottish Water, Austin said: “They have extensive new pipeline projects and existing pipeline upgrades that are all in addition to ongoing pipe maintenance.

“To support these works, Scottish Water has statutory powers, acquiring new sites and processing facilities, which will also impact farmers and landowners.

“It cannot be overstated, the importance of engaging professional advice as soon as you hear you may be affected.”

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