Land Valuation: Lands Tribunal For Scotland Progresses "Golden Key" Case

Publication Date28 May 2020
AuthorMr Stephanie Hepburn
SubjectLitigation, Mediation & Arbitration, Energy and Natural Resources, Oil, Gas & Electricity, Trials & Appeals & Compensation
Law FirmShepherd and Wedderburn LLP

The Lands Tribunal for Scotland has found in principle that compensation payable under paragraph 7(1) of Schedule 4 to the Electricity Act 1989 following the grant of a necessary wayleave may be valued on a ransom strip basis.

What is the claim?

A claim has been brought by William Wyness against Scottish Hydro Electric Power Distribution plc (SHEPD) for compensation amounting to '1,712,000 following the grant by the Scottish Ministers of a necessary wayleave under paragraph 7(1) of Schedule 4 to the Electricity Act 1989.

Mr Wyness is the owner of Meikle Camaloun Farm, on which a 500 kilowatt wind turbine has been erected. Adjacent lies South Camaloun Farm, which is in separate ownership. A similar turbine has been constructed on South Camaloun, a short distance from the Meikle Camaloun turbine. Both turbines are connected to the electricity grid via an 11 kilovolt cable that runs from the substation, across a neighbouring estate, through part of Meikle Camaloun Farm, where it makes a short loop to South Camaloun and the turbine there and proceeds back to connect to the Meikle Camaloun turbine. The cable was subject to a voluntary wayleave agreement between Mr Wyness and SHEPD. Following the termination of this voluntary wayleave, SHEPD applied for a statutory necessary wayleave under the 1989 Act which was granted by the Scottish Ministers.

Legal arguments for and against

Mr Wyness' application was on the basis that he has lost his legal right to require SHEPD to remove its equipment from his land. It was submitted that this was a valuable right since Mr Wyness' land contained a "golden key", or ransom strip, in respect of the operation of the neighbouring South Camaloun turbine. This is on the contention there were no reasonable alternative routes to export the South Camaloun electricity other than through Meikle Camaloun.

SHEPD argued that, as it had adopted the cable as part of its distribution network, this meant that Mr Wyness did not have the ability to deny the South Camaloun turbine access to the cable. SHEPD also contended that the "no-scheme rule" known as the Pointe Gourde principle should apply - which would mean that the pressing need for the land as part of a scheme should be disregarded when assessing its value for compensation purposes. Mr Wyness' position on Pointe Gourde is that there is no "scheme" in this case, but if one can be satisfactorily identified, the rights in question pre-existed or were independent of the scheme.

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