New projects have been revealed as part of the utility infrastructure partnership between the National Farmers’ Union of Scotland (NFUS) and Davidson & Robertson (D&R).

The NFUS and D&R partnership aims to support union members on utility infrastructure issues. It has seen demand due to the growing number of projects across Scotland, ranging from electricity upgrades and energising rail lines to new water pipeline plans.

The Affinity Partnership was launched at AgriScot in November and aims to support NFUS members when statutory undertakers like Scottish Power Energy Networks (SPEN), Scottish and Southern Electricity(SSE), Scottish Water, or Network Rail need to do work on their land.

D&R has highlighted that further public consultation events have concluded on the Beauly – Blackhillock – New Deer – Peterhead 400kV OHL project.

The East Coast 400kV Phase 2 project, involving the development of new substations, new 400kV OHLs and upgrading existing infrastructure to 400kV where possible, is in early development with feedback from all interested parties on the preferred routes currently being considered.

D&R is running a series of seminars for NFUS members. The first took place on Wednesday (July 3) and the next is planned in Forfar on July 17.

At the seminars, the D&R team shares the key issues that members may face and answers specific questions on their specific infrastructure issues. Members interested in attending a seminar should contact their local NFUS office.

Infrastructure concerns

NFUS rural business policy advisor, Rhianna Montgomery, said the union is seeing a growing number of concerns amongst its membership about utilities and infrastructure projects impacting their land and businesses.

“These have a significant effect on farmers’ businesses through the need for access by the statutory undertakers, damage to crops and property, and ultimately time spent addressing all of these issues,” she said.

“Davidson & Robertson provides valuable expertise in utilities and infrastructure claims through their helpline, providing 15 minutes of free advice to all members.”

D&R director and department head of utilities, energy and infrastructure, Ian Austin, said: “The push to net zero has resulted in a requirement to upgrade the national electrical network.

“National Grid has stated that over the next seven years (from 2023), five times the level of electrical infrastructure built in the last 30 years will need to be built”. This is set to impact huge numbers of farmers across the country.

“Through the NFUS members helpline, we are already talking to members who are concerned about the effect on their land and who want to understand more fully their rights and options.

“We are also able to explain what can be claimed for and can support them in making that claim so that they’re properly compensated.”

NFUS and D&R helpline

The NFUS helpline relates to work on all infrastructure and utility works. There is also significant activity on rail lines across Scotland, as Network Rail energises their lines.

To achieve this, they need temporary access to adjacent land – which is achieved through voluntary access via negotiation.

Commenting on Scottish Water, Austin said “They have extensive new pipeline projects and existing pipeline upgrades that are all in addition to ongoing pipe maintenance.

“To support these works, Scottish Water has statutory powers, acquiring new sites and processing facilities, which will also impact farmers and landowners. It cannot be overstated, the importance of engaging professional advice as soon as you hear you may be affected.”

“D&R has partnered with the NFUS to provide a free helpline to NFUS members, providing advice on rights and next steps to those impacted.

“Our specialist utilities, energy and infrastructure team are well versed in providing advice on access agreements, wayleaves and servitudes, crop loss and compensation. It is a great resource for NFUS members to tap into.”