Cable to be laid in private land

In plain English: Wayleaves and easements

Wayleaves and easements relate to access requirements for pipes and cables laid in private land, usually by utility companies. They are easily confused so it is important for both homeowner and landowner to understand the distinction. 

A wayleave is a terminable licence that is linked to the owners/occupiers of property and land, rather than the land itself. Wayleaves are usually annual agreements that can be renewed or terminated by either party. They give the right for utility companies to lay cables and pipes in or over land, with an annual payment to the property owner.

Given that a wayleave is usually a temporary agreement with the land owner, it does not automatically transfer to the new incumbent should a property or piece of land be sold. Utility companies do have certain powers to prevent wayleaves from being terminated in certain cases.

An easement, which can also be referred to as a deed of grant, usually relates to more permanent statutory access agreements for larger infrastructure projects such as the installation of new water, gas or sewage pipes. The agreement relates to the land under which the pipes are laid and cannot be terminated. Usually there is a one-off payment to the land owner on installation, with permanent access granted to the utility company to service the pipes and cables at any reasonable time, often by serving a notice of entry.

In summary, a wayleave is granted to the person who owns the land and is terminable; an easement relates to the land itself and is permanent.

Further information

Contact Savills Energy, Utilities & Infrastructure

Read more: 'In plain English': property jargon explained by the experts

In plain English

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