Utility companies often require access to publicly and privately owned land to install or maintain equipment. They also face issues with gaining consent from landowners before beginning work. From wayleaves to easements and leases through to the acquisition of land, RSK Consents Solutions facilitates its clients’ needs to ensure a project’s legal consents are secured. To complement our years of experience within the utility and renewables sector, we use the extensive support of the RSK group’s specialist skills to provide a complete land agency service and wayleave consultancy across a range of sectors and multidisciplinary projects.
Notice serving is often a requirement for the legislative procedures required for various types of consents, ranging from notices for Section 134 to statutory notices under a development consent order. Our team is experienced with notice serving and has tried-and-tested systems for effective delivery and recording of notices. We also advise on the different types of notices, such as notices to treat or general vesting declarations, that could be served and the benefits of each in different circumstances.
Our clients and their subcontractors will likely require access to the consultation land periodically throughout a project to undertake intrusive and non-intrusive survey work. This often occurs before we achieve formal consent. As necessary, we arrange access to the land in question and liaise with landowners and survey teams to agree on dates and access conditions. As part of any survey access requirement, we also undertake a detailed photographic pre-entry record of its condition and later assess the land on completion to ensure that detailed records are held. If necessary, we can draft a survey access licence to ensure formal arrangements are in place to facilitate ongoing access to the consultation land. These rights are often required before any more substantive agreements with landowners and will be secured by consensus where possible. We can implement a standard payment rate set for any intrusive or non-intrusive ground investigations; we must also communicate the rates to all affected landowners in advance. If necessary, we will also negotiate and agree with the landowners or their agents any compensation relating to crop losses or disturbance that may have been caused because of the survey.
Ensuring that all statutory requirements for utility infrastructure projects are compliant is a vital aspect of a project. We use our experience and teams from within the RSK group to ensure that we deal with these issues in a compliant and timely way. We can facilitate environmental investigations by soil specialists, ecologists, drilling experts and more. We can also work closely with our clients and regulators to obtain all the necessary consents and permits and produce working conditions agreements. Should the need for further specialist input be necessary, we can engage the relevant services from within the RSK group.
We can complete and submit applications for powers on behalf of utility clients. We can also prepare or assist with preparing the statutory documentation required for larger consents, including a development consent order. The types of documentation we prepare and deliver include applications under utility acts; land referencing and plans; consultation reports and statements of reasons; and assistance with the funding statement by providing property cost estimates.
Effective and proactive landowner and stakeholder engagement is key to delivering a project, regardless of whether the scheme relies on statutory powers. RSK Consents Solutions has experience in delivering agreements for projects with and without the use of powers. We also understand the difference in how to negotiate with willing landowners to ensure all parties benefit and how to manage landowners with objections to a scheme.
Consulting with landowners is a legal requirement for schemes employing compulsory purchase powers. Therefore, it is paramount that the affected landowners can consider the project proposals fully and provide their views, valuable local information and feedback. Furthermore, their consent and understanding of the wider environmental and socio-economic benefits and opportunities may also be of considerable advantage to the area because of the development.
We are comfortable with managing the stakeholder engagement process for our clients and record all interactions in bespoke project databases to compile a demonstrable file of engagement with all parties. RSK Consents Solutions recognises that pre-application consultation is a key requirement for applications for development consent orders (England and Wales) and major applications (Scotland) for major infrastructure projects. Effective pre-application consultation will lead to applications that are better developed and understood by the public, and in which the important issues have been articulated and considered as far as possible before submission of the application.