Utility firms and landowners working together
Landowners and utility firms must work together to accommodate the increasing number of pipelines going underground. Although the goals and needs of landowners and utility firms may seem to be at odds, Fisher German has forged many harmonious partnerships between the two parties, thanks to the firm’s innate understanding and knowledge of both sides of the spectrum.
Busy and congested roads are forcing pipelines transporting liquids and gases underground in increasing numbers, highlighting the importance of mutually beneficial relationships between utility firms and the owners and occupiers of agricultural land.
Andrew Bridge, based in the Ashby de la Zouch office, explains: “A large percentage of pipelines for the water and gas industries used to be situated under roads, but this is increasingly no longer a viable option as the routes have become congested with other services. Today’s increased emphasis on health and safety also prevents road transportation from being a viable option. Using pipelines across private land reduces the requirement to use the roads but is dependent on landowners and utility firms working together.”
Many members of the utilities team have a rural background which gives them an understanding and empathy with the landowners.
“We aim to make the project run as smoothly as possible and talk face to face with the parties to ensure that both sides understand the other’s constraints and concerns,” adds Andrew. “Some civil engineers and project managers have limited empathy or understanding of the rural environment so our experience and personal relationships with land owners helps enormously.”
George Simpson at the firm’s Stafford office is heavily involved in pipeline schemes for the water industry. He says: “A lack of knowledge of rural issues on the part of a number of contractors and project managers can lead to the unrealistic programming of schemes, as insufficient time is allowed to deal with what can be important and complex issues for owners and occupiers of agricultural land which can lead to conflict and which benefits neither party.”
The firm adds value to these types of projects by bridging any gap with a wealth of knowledge, understanding and empathy with both parties – whether it is acting for the landowner or the utility company. This helps to ensure that both sides benefit from the relationship.