A wayleave. A simple term, but wayleaves can get contentious.


What’s a wayleave?

It might sound like it comes from an old English folk song… but it’s not! Wayleaves are very much a 21st century term.

It’s a legal agreement that grants a utility company the right to access, install, and maintain their infrastructure on private land. Infrastructure like power lines, gas pipelines or telecommunication cables.

Wayleave disputes can be a source of frustration and stress for both landowners and utility companies. And with the Norwich to Tilbury transmission line about to be built promising potentially 9,000 new pylons and the world needing ever faster broadband, there will be new infrastructure aplenty, brand new wayleaves, and unfortunately wayleave disputes

Disputes are fairly frequent, and revolve around the following issues:

Compensation: This can vary based on the size of the land affected, the type of utility involved, and local regulations.

Duration: Wayleave agreements have a specific duration. When that ends, they may need to be renegotiated or renewed.

Access and Maintenance: Your agreement outlines the utility company’s rights and responsibilities regarding access, maintenance, and any necessary repairs during the install and throughout the agreement. Landowners have an obligation to inform the utility company of any changes or developments on the land that might affect the wayleave.

So, what should you do if you have a dispute over a wayleave?

Communication: The first step is open and honest communication between the landowner and the utility company. Often, misunderstandings or disputes can be resolved amicably through a face-to-face chat. Stop writing that argumentative email and meet your contact for a discussion.

Read your Wayleave Agreement: Thoroughly ensure you understand your rights and obligations. Over the years, you may have forgotten or misinterpreted your rights. It’s time to get conversant with your contract.

Consult Legal Advice: If the above steps don’t help, seek legal advice. Consult with a solicitor or legal expert who specializes in property and land disputes.

Mediation: An impartial mediator can help both parties reach a mutually-acceptable resolution. It can be a cost-effective and efficient way to settle disputes without going to court.

Court Action: If all else fails, either party can take the matter to court. Litigation should be a last resort due to its cost and time-consuming nature.

At AWB Charlesworth Solicitors we are frequently instructed by landowners facing issues with wayleave agreements. We have extensive experience both in negotiating on the terms of wayleave agreements and dealing with disputes.

For more information, please contact Janine Eaglesfield on 01756 692861 / janine.eaglesfield@awbclaw.co.uk or Chris Cooper on 01535 613680 / christopher.cooper@awbclaw.co.uk

8 November 2023


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External links of interest

Gov.uk: Guidance on Access Agreements

CLA: Wayleaves: what are they and how do they work?

11 October 2023