Land owners

Stakeholder role in grid projects: 

Land owners are stakeholders of power grid projects whose physical property is crossed by the overhead power line or underground cable. Unlike Adjacent communities which are indirectly affected by the project e.g. by its visual impact on the surrounding countryside, Land owners directly deal with pylons constructed on their premises or cable corridors passing over their property. By varying means of national legislation or lack thereof, Land owners are typically compensated financially for the use of their land – in one way or another, depending on their cooperation and agreement to the use of land by TSOs to construct the grid connection. In case of failure to reach an agreement, land usage issues are normally settled in court where expropriation of Land owners may be the final means of dispute settlement.

Given the means of compensation for Land owners available by law and in practice, Land owners usually become constructively engaged with other stakeholders of the project. Moreover, Land owners can play a crucial role in defining the precise routing of a grid section. This is especially true for the positioning of pylons for overhead power lines because they possess the best knowledge of local premises and because they can determine where a pylon may be least detrimental to ongoing economic activities, such as farming. For TSOs, it is hence more than worthwhile to engage Land owners and consider their input and opinion on the construction of the power line.

 

 

Primary concern with grid projects: 
Usual patterns: 

Land owners’ primary concern with grid projects are the effects that the physical infrastructure (underground cables, pylons for overhead lines etc.) will have on their property and its economic usability. 

Further project-specific questions: 
  • What kinds of pylons are used by the project at which section?    

  • How do the chosen pylons affect the property and land on the ground, e.g. in terms of their baseplates?

Topography within stakeholder group: 
Usual patterns: 

Land owners can be private individuals such as farmers or households with large landholdings, but also include municipalities and other statutory bodies such as churches or dioceses. While Land owners are generally equal from a stakeholder perspective, farmers associations are important organisations that channel the interests of multiple Land owning farmers affected in order to participate in the stakeholder dialogue – most importantly with the TSO. At stakeholder meetings (e.g. Roundtables) farmers associations may thus be indispensable participants, particularly when dialogue occurs at a higher level and at an earlier project stage.

Further project-specific questions: 
  • What does the topography of Land owners in the specific corridor of interest look like? 

  • Who are the large-scale Land owners to which large parts of the affected area belong?

  • Are individual Land owners like farmers organised in associations or other institutional forms at a local or regional level?

Individuals within stakeholder organisations/entities: 
Usual patterns: 

It is generally important for TSOs to engage with Land owners at some point during the Spatial planning phase on a one-to-one basis, in order to discuss and verify the best possible positioning of pylons for overhead power lines or the corridor for underground cables. Before that, the national heads and regional representatives of farmers association are the most important stakeholders within the group of Land owners; they have to be an integral part of any stakeholder involvement during the early project stages.

Further project-specific questions: 
  • Who are the local representatives of farmers’ associations? 

  • Who are the specific representatives of large-scale Land owners?

Project stage for engagement: 
Usual patterns: 

During early project stages it is both absolutely recommendable and practically most feasible to engage the important stakeholder group of Land owners via representative associations – e.g. the national and regional farmers’ associations. Such associations should be part of information, consultation and participation events during the preparation of the Spatial planning when different corridor alternatives are identified and put on the short list. 

Further project-specific questions: 
  • Who are regional representatives of farmers’ associations that would be best suited to participate in stakeholder involvement events at a very early stage of the project?
Usual patterns: 

During the Spatial planning, specific corridors are analysed and benchmarked with each other in order to arrive at a preferred route for the power grid, which will be submitted to the relevant authorities for permitting. During this phase, the knowledge of the Land owners about their own property as well as their preferences for micro-routing (esp. regarding the positions of pylons) should be tapped and well considered by the TSO. In the end, the route submitted for permitting should have included a maximum of individual input from the different property holders. Moreover, the legal procedure for financial compensation has to be clearly communicated to Land owners individually, so that roles, responsibilities, timelines and documentation needs are transparent from the start.

Further project-specific questions: 
  • How can individual Land owners be addressed individually to discuss the micro routing? 

  • How can the TSO obtain an overview of cadastral information on the Land owners that are affected by the preferred route?

Usual patterns: 

During the Permitting stage, it is important to keep Land owners informed about the ongoing process and potential changes to the routing as they arise from mandatory consultation procedures and input given by the Permitting authorities. Finally, compensation mechanisms have to be activated so that Land owners receive financial compensation before their land is first being accessed by the TSO and its contractors.

Further project-specific questions: 
  • What essential steps of the legal permitting process are most important for Land owners? 

  • How can they be kept informed throughout the ongoing permitting procedure?

Usual patterns: 

Similarly, Land owners have to be engaged by the TSO during the construction of the grid project. Specifically, they should communicate as early as possible the precise construction schedule and activities that are to take place on the Land owners’ ground and property – as well as the repercussions that the construction activities will have on the economic use of the affected land.

Further project-specific questions: 
  • What is the best medium to reach all affected Land owners to inform them about upcoming construction activities? 

  • How can the impact on the economic use of the land be minimised during the Construction stage?

Adequate communication channels for participation/cooperation: 
Adequate communication formats for participation/cooperation: 
Usual patterns: 

Brochures and Fact sheets from TSOs and Permitting authorities can help to inform Land owners at large about legal requirements and practical procedures of financial compensation for the use of their property. 

Further project-specific questions: 
  • What are the legal requirements for compensation according to national legislation?
  •  In what way can it be presented in the least complex way?
Country-specific examples: 

In general, the possibilities and constraints for financially compensating individual Land owners are largely dependent on specific national legislation. Such legislation stipulates the means of calculating the amount of compensation as well as the procedure to disburse the funds. Moreover, in absence of such legislation, TSOs will likely have established their own rules and procedures for the financial compensation of Land owners.