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Helpline Launched to Aid Scottish Farmers with Utility Infrastructure Challenges – Aberdeen Business News

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Partnership to Support Farmers

Davidson & Robertson (D&R) has joined forces with the National Farmers’ Union of Scotland (NFUS) to offer a helping hand to farmers grappling with utility infrastructure issues. A dedicated helpline has been established, providing a much-valued service for those seeking guidance on how to navigate the complexities of infrastructure projects on their land.

Surge in Demand for Assistance

The collaboration between D&R and NFUS comes in response to a surge in demand from the agricultural community, as Scotland sees an increase in infrastructure projects. These range from electricity grid upgrades to new water pipeline plans, all of which pose potential disruptions to farming operations.

Support During Statutory Works

The Affinity Partnership aims to support NFUS members when statutory undertakers require access to their land for works. This includes companies such as Scottish Power Energy Networks (SPEN), Scottish and Southern Electricity (SSE), Scottish Water, and Network Rail. The partnership was officially launched at AgriScot in November and has been actively assisting members since.

Consultation on New Electrical Line

SPEN has announced a consultation on the preferred route for a new 132kv overhead line, integral to the Cloich Forest Wind Farm project. With a deadline for feedback set for June 17, 2024, the consultation period is a critical time for stakeholders to voice their concerns and preferences.

Union Addresses Growing Concerns

Rhianna Montgomery, NFUS rural business policy advisor, has acknowledged the increasing unease among farmers regarding utility and infrastructure projects. The impact on their land and businesses, including access requirements, damage to property, and the time spent dealing with these issues, cannot be underestimated.

Expertise in Infrastructure Claims

Davidson & Robertson offers a specialist team adept at advising on a range of issues from access agreements to compensation for crop loss. Farmers can avail of free initial advice, helping them understand their rights and the options available to them.

Implications of National Grid Upgrades

The drive towards net zero has necessitated significant upgrades to the national electrical network. According to D&R director Ian Austin, the scale of infrastructure development expected in the next seven years is unprecedented, and this will have a considerable impact on farmers across Scotland.

Entitlement to Professional Advice

Austin stresses the importance of seeking professional advice early in the process. Statutory Undertakers typically cover reasonable professional advice costs, which means farmers can receive expert guidance without incurring personal expenses.

Helpline Services and Rail Line Activity

The NFUS helpline addresses all infrastructure and utility works. With Network Rail energising their lines, temporary land access is becoming a frequent issue for landowners. D&R advises that farmers should seek professional advice as soon as they are notified of potential works.

Scottish Water’s Extensive Projects

Scottish Water’s new and upgraded pipeline projects, along with ongoing maintenance, require statutory powers that affect farmers and landowners. Engaging with professional advisors at the earliest indication of being affected is crucial, according to Austin.

Conclusion

For Scottish farmers facing the challenges of utility infrastructure works, the D&R and NFUS helpline is proving to be an indispensable resource. It offers guidance and support to ensure that the agricultural community can navigate these issues effectively and secure the necessary compensation.

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