DM were instructed to secure a land acquisition and legal rights for new assets for a water scheme in Warwickshire. This was due to our client receiving an application to provide first time sewerage to over twenty properties under Section 101A of the Water Industry Act 1991 (‘The Act’).
Due to environmental problems arising from the existing private sewerage arrangements at these properties the provision of a public sewer was the appropriate solution. The existing private network was situated in an area prone to flooding and had deteriorated significantly over time, leaking raw sewerage into the adjoining water course.
Devising a Land Strategy to Support Scheme Delivery
Following discussions with the Environment Agency, our client decided that the most appropriate solution, and therefore aim of the scheme, was to install a Rotating Biological Contactor (RBC) onto the existing system, which would rectify the pollution issues. DM was asked to assist with the evaluation of different potential locations for the new RBC and then to purchase the preferred plot on behalf of our client, securing the appropriate land rights in the process. At this point we advised that although water companies have statutory rights to install an outfall pipe to a watercourse, they do not have the right to discharge into it and would therefore require a Deed of Easement. DM addressed this by proposing to contain the details for the Easement within the Heads of Terms presented to the landowner.
It was important that disturbance to the local community was kept to a minimum and our client’s good public perception was preserved. The project needed to be delivered within budget, in line with the programme and without any adverse impact on the environment. DM’s surveyor needed to be alive to these objectives and ensure the project team was fully understanding of how the land strategy aligned with other key project milestones.
Safeguarding our Client’s Position
The land purchase and easement negotiations progressed smoothly, culminating in signed Heads of Terms (documenting a reasonable price) and the instruction of solicitors to legally complete the transfer. However, because this scheme was required under S.101A of The Act there was a particularly tight programme to adhere to. This was not an issue because DM served 3-month statutory notices under S.159 of The Act on the landowner and occupier, which meant access could be taken ahead of the purchase being legally completed. The notices also had the effect of safeguarding the position of our client by formally outlining their statutory rights and obligations.
DM worked closely with the landowner’s agent, the local community and the contractors to ensure that the new development was sympathetic to the surroundings, a suitable access route was agreed and a future right of way for the landowner facilitated. The scheme was delivered smoothly, on time, within budget and successfully reduced pollution into the watercourse.