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GSC Grays - Property Estates Land

Powers of Water Authorities in Relation to Land

Water Companies and Sewage Companies (commonly referred to as Undertakers) have a statutory power to enter land to lay pipes and alter existing pipes under the Water Industry Act 1991.  It should be noted that other utility authorities such as gas and electricity also have powers to enter property under different Acts of Parliament.  However, of all the utility companies, water undertakers hold some of the strongest powers of entry due to the importance of water as a resource.

In order to gain entry to land, water authorities must serve either of the following notices to the owner and the occupier:

  • Section 159 Notice with 3 months’ notice to lay new pipes; or
  • Section 159 Notice with 42 days’ notice to alter existing pipes; followed by
  • A 7 day works notice to follow the above informing the landowner and occupier that entry will be taken within 7 days.
  • In the event of emergency, no notice will be required.

If the above notices have not been served then the landowner may refuse the water authories right of entry.

It should be noted that these notices are not compulsory powers but are more a method of agreement used by the Water Board.  However, should the landowner refute this notice, any water authority will then refer to their compulsory powers.

Upon receipt of a notice from a water company it is essential that any landowner is professionally represented to ensure steps are taken to minimise disturbance from works and to recover compensation for damage.  Therefore, it is advisable to immediately contact a land agent to act on your behalf. All agent’s fees will be covered by the water company so there is no reason for a landowner or occupier not to appoint an agent.

Water authority pipe laying can take many months in some circumstances and can have both short and long-term effects on the value and management of land and property. There are many potential impacts which can be far more complex than simply loss of crop:

  • Disruption of agricultural practices
  • Loss of land
  • Reduced freehold value of land
  • Temporary loss of BPS

The above are only some of the potential impacts that pipe laying can have but there are many more wide-reaching issues to consider on any land and therefore it is essential that any landowner is professionally represented.

GSC Grays provide professional advice in respect of all matters of compulsory purchase and land acquisition including:

  • Pre-entry surveys
  • Access issues
  • Preparation of compensation claims
  • Construction of compounds
  • Accommodation works

If you are concerned about any of the above matters or are in receipt of a notice from a utility company, please do not hesitate to contact Chris Thyer or James Scott at GSC Grays on 01833 694935.

[team-member name=”Chris Thyer”]

[team-member name=”James Scott”]


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