On 21 April 2023, the House of Lords is due to consider the Electricity Transmission (Compensation) Bill at second reading. This is a private member’s bill first introduced in the House of Commons on 15 June 2022 by Dr Liam Fox (Conservative MP for North Somerset). The bill’s sponsor in the House of Lords is Lord McLoughlin (Conservative).
The government committed to accelerating the installation of electricity infrastructure across Great Britain as part of its British energy security strategy, published in April 2022. The purpose of this was to help ensure a clean, affordable and secure domestic power supply.
Electricity network operators can require access to private land when installing and maintaining network infrastructure such as overhead cables. If a voluntary agreement cannot be reached with the landowner, operators can apply to compulsorily acquire the land or land rights without the owner’s consent. If granted, landowners are entitled to compensation for the value of their land and other losses which may occur. Any compensation disputes between landowners and operators can be determined by a tribunal. Whilst operators are encouraged to offer alternative dispute resolution (ADR) to landowners to settle compensation disputes out of court, this is not a legal requirement. ADR procedures include mediation and arbitration.
This private member’s bill would require UK ministers to lay proposals before Parliament for the use of ADR processes in England and Wales to determine levels of compensation in electricity-related land acquisition cases.
The bill received its second reading in the House of Commons on 25 November 2022. It was considered in public bill committee for one day on 25 January 2023 where the bill’s text and title were amended without division. The bill’s third reading debate took place on 24 February 2023.
The government supported the bill during its passage through the House of Commons. It said the bill would help to ensure the rights of landowners and communities would be protected whilst network infrastructure is built. However, the Labour Party did not support the bill. Shadow ministers said the bill could result in delays to network infrastructure development which could dissuade businesses from investing in the UK.
The then Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy prepared explanatory notes