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The Electricity and Gas Transmission (Compensation) Bill 2022-23 would introduce a system to determine the amount of compensation a landowner receives when electricity and gas network operators use their land.

This briefing explains the clauses of the Bill, which was introduced in the House of Commons by Dr Liam Fox as a Private Member’s Bill. It also discusses the background to the Bill and the current legislative framework.

Great Britain’s electricity grid

The electricity grid is a network that connects electricity generators and consumers. The grid in Great Britain is formed of two networks: the transmission network, that connects large power stations to substations, and the distribution network, that connects substations to consumers.

The Government has said that, to accelerate domestic supplies of low carbon and affordable electricity, the UK will need to expand the network infrastructure to support it. In the British Energy Security Strategy (April 2022), it announced measures to build new electricity network infrastructure and upgrade existing infrastructure.

In this context, the Government consulted on the rights of electricity network operators to access private land between August and September 2022. It has not yet responded to the consultation.

How network operators currently access land and compensate landowners

Electricity and gas network operators need access to private land to install network infrastructure, such as overhead lines, towers and underground cables. Network operators also need access to private land to maintain, repair and replace that infrastructure.

A network operator can get access to or rights to the land in several ways, all of which involve paying compensation the landowner. These are:

  • with the landowner’s consent through voluntary wayleaves (temporary access) or easements (permanent access), or
  • without the landowner’s consent, involving necessary wayleaves which give a network operator access to the land or through compulsory purchase, which allows a network operator to acquire the rights to the land.

A network operator must always compensate the landowner. If they cannot agree on the amount payable, compensation is determined by the Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber).

What does the Bill do?

If passed, the Bill would require the Secretary of State to introduce an “independent mechanism” to determine the compensation a landowner receives when a network operator acquires access or the rights to their land. The proposals would have to be presented to Parliament for scrutiny.

The independent mechanism would apply when a network operator acquires the rights or access to the land without the landowner’s consent and when the landowner voluntarily enters an agreement with a network operator.


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