Statutory wayleaves and rights of access
Statutory wayleaves and rights of access

The following Planning practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Statutory wayleaves and rights of access
  • Utilities
  • Compulsory powers
  • Electricity
  • Electricity licensees: street-opening and necessary wayleaves
  • Water and sewage
  • Electronic communications
  • Gas
  • Private pipelines


The water, gas, electricity, communications and energy industries enjoy statutory rights of access onto private land to lay pipes, wires, cables and other service infrastructure.

Landowners without private services rights may be able to require a supplier to use its compulsory purchase powers in order to comply with its 'duty to connect' and facilitate a development project.

Compulsory powers

The powers of each utility are given by industry-specific statutes. Despite broad similarity of approach, each utility has a specific compensation regime. Certain regimes limit the compensation to an amount equivalent to the depreciation of value of the land over which rights are exercised, rather than open market value.


The Electricity Act 1989 (EA 1989) authorises bodies authorised to generate, transport or supply electricity to acquire a wayleave to install an electric line on, under or over private land, together with rights of access for inspection, maintenance and replacement. The wayleave arises where the owner or occupier fails to respond to a notice requiring him to grant the wayleave or gives it subject to conditions unacceptable to the electricity company. The electricity company may request the Secretary of State to grant the wayleave. However, before doing so the Secretary of State will give the owner and occupier an opportunity to put their case.

From 1 October 2013 the procedural rules governing an owner or occupier’s opportunity to be heard

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