Whether you have a legal, tax, insurance, management or land issue, Farmers Weekly’s Business Clinic experts can help. Those facing compulsory purchase face huge upheaval and stress.
Deborah Lund of Carter Jonas Leisure advises how things are likely to proceed and how that stress might be reduced.
Q. There are plans to build a bypass around the local town, which sits just to the south of my farm.
If the chosen route cuts across my land, what can I do to minimise the impact of the works, and how can I get involved?
If I am entitled to compensation, will this cover any costs involved?
Whether it be a new road, railway line, water pipe, high voltage power line or gas pipe coming over or under your land, or access required across your land to maintain a previous scheme, a lot of similar principles apply when a new project is planned which will affect you.
The first official information you will hear of the scheme will probably be a letter from the authority intending to carry out the works (or its appointed agents) to check that you do either own or occupy the land which will be affected.
The authority could be, for example, the water company, local or national electrical network or local or national government, depending on the nature of the scheme proposed.
Compulsory Purchase Orders
All of these can take access to your land with the use of compulsory powers, either through existing legislation or with the use of specific Compulsory Purchase Orders.
Once the authority has confirmed what your interest in the land is, then they may contact you to ask for permission to carry out surveys (such as ecological, topographical and also intrusive ground surveys) on the land, so they can make sure that the route they will be proposing is feasible.
At this early stage you should look to appoint an agent experienced in compulsory purchase and compensation matters, such as a chartered rural surveyor or a Fellow of the Central Association of Agricultural Valuers.
They will be able to guide you through the process, act on your behalf and make sure that you are fairly dealt with at all times and that your interests are best represented, while you continue to focus on running your business.
Their fees should also be paid by the authority, which ought to be confirmed before they start any work for you.
Once the authority is decided on its preferred route, it should consult with you regarding its proposals.
Ideally this should be done with face-to-face meetings, so that you can properly discuss any implications of the scheme on how your farm functions.
This should be well before any planning application has been submitted, in order that you can best consider how the scheme will affect your day-to-day activities, whether that be during the period of construction or after they have left the site and the new pipe/road/pylon is in place.
Often, designs are “frozen” once planning applications are submitted, and the chance of getting any significant changes made often become slight, so it is important to get your views listened to, and acted upon, before this point.
When it comes to the construction of the scheme itself, your agent will be able to help identify measures which the authority could put in place during the works to reduce the impact of the scheme, such as stock fencing, access gates, acoustic fencing and so forth.
In addition, they will be negotiating compensation for any losses you incur and advising you on what items can be claimed for, such as having to pay for temporary extra grazing, permanent loss of land area, your time in dealing with the scheme, or re-establishment of land.
Such infrastructure schemes will not make you rich, as the principle of compensation is that you are no worse off financially after the scheme than before it.
It can also often take a year or so after the scheme has completed for all the final elements of the claim to be identified, set out, negotiated and agreed with the authority, and any final payments made.
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