Wayleaves & Easements
These legal rights provide utility companies with access to private land to install and maintain cabling and piping in return for some form of payment. For development projects, this would normally be agreed between a utility company (network operator) and the developer. However, where the incoming services need to cross adjoining land, not owned by the developer, utility companies usually expect the developer to negotiate Wayleaves or Easements directly with the landowner.
Generally speaking, landowners and utility companies choose between either annual payments through a Wayleave or a one off payment through an Easement. There are some other variations between the two legal terms, and the various utility sectors operate to different legal frameworks but, for general guidance, the following brief definitions should help clarify the situation:-
A Wayleave is a means of providing rights for a company to install and retain their cabling or piping across private land in return for annual payments to the landowner. A Wayleave is normally a temporary arrangement and does not automatically transfer to a new owner or occupier.
Annual Wayleave payments made directly by utility companies, for development projects, normally amount to no more than a few pounds in value. These standard payments are calculated from base figures agreed with various national land authorities. However, for underground work and for continuous access, companies normally seek an Easement as described below. Gas network operators also prefer Easement agreements and not Wayleaves.
An Easement (also known as Deed of Grant) provides similar access rights for installing and maintaining infrastructure equipment, but for a one-off payment and it provides permanent access. An Easement can also be registered at the Land Registry in order to ensure that future owners of the land adhere to it.
Easement payments made directly by utility companies are relatively small and usually about 20 times the equivalent Wayleave payment. However, when developers need permission to cross adjoining land, to bring in service pipes or cables, this can cost several thousand pounds to reach an agreement, subject to open negotiation between the landowner and developer.
Landowners can ask for a previously agreed Wayleave to be replaced with a one-off payment through an Easement, but not the reverse.