Advice: 'I am concerned about what state bodies may have access to my land without my consent or knowledge'
Q I have been following the case which was taken against the ESB about entering private lands. As a landowner and farmer I am concerned about what state bodies may have access to my land without my consent or knowledge. It is not that I want to stand in the way of progress, I would just like to know who can enter my land without warning me.
A The recent Supreme Court hearing involving the ESB and the procedure that it uses to serve a notice to enter private lands to carry out works on electricity lines has raised interest in the access that landowners give.
The ESB has won its Supreme Court appeal of a court finding that a procedure under which the Board served a notice to enter private lands to carry out works on electricity lines is unlawful.
Any landowners who have power lines running through their lands are affected but may not be aware that the 1927 Electricity (Supply) Act gives power to the ESB to place any electric line above or below ground across any land which is not a street/road/railway or tramway. Before placing an electric line across any land, they must serve on the owner and occupier of the land a notice in writing stating its intention to place the line and give a description of the nature of the line or fixture, and of the position and manner in which it is intended to be placed.
If the owner of the land consents to the placing of the line or consents with some conditions attached which are acceptable to the Board, the ESB may proceed and place the line across the lands in the manner which was outlined in the notice. However, if the owner does not consent within 14 days, the Board can decide to install the line without the consent of the landowner.
The issue in the recent case centred around the procedure that the ESB had used when giving power to authorised officers (by the CEO of ESB) to sign the notice which was issued to a landowner on whose lands upgrading works would be carried out. The Supreme Court found that there had been no breach of the 1927 Act by the ESB in the procedure that they used.
The 1927 Act, under the same provision, gives power to the ESB to enter and undertake repairs etc on lines which are placed on lands.
Therefore if you have a power line running through your land, for which the ESB complied with the notice requirements, effectively, there is a wayleave over your land for the repair and maintenance of the lines. Proper notice should be given, however emergency circumstances do allow repair work to be carried out without notice.