Valuing land with access to the grid

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Landowners often approach us with queries about how to maximise the value of their land. Many are realising the potential of leasing to energy companies. Julie Liddle looks at the issues and how you can protect your interests.

Earlier this year, I wrote a piece about energy storage on the farm, or so-called embedded energy, and how 2016 was to be a watershed year for this emerging technology.

It prompted a number of queries from farmers and energy storage companies alike and the momentum appears to be gathering quicker still as we head into 2017. Meanwhile, we continue to help a number of rural clients lease their land to renewables companies for the installation of solar panels and other renewable technologies.

Why good grid connections mean good value

The mere fact that you have land that you’re interested in leasing for renewable energy projects, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s easy to strike a deal.

As a general rule of thumb, the closer your farmland is to a viable electricity substation or overhead pylon, the more attractive a commercial proposition it is for the energy company because it is less costly for the provider to connect the equipment to the grid.

What are the benefits of energy storage in particular?

The proliferation of solar farms and wind turbines has enabled the UK to get an ever-increasing amount of its energy from renewable sources. However, this energy needs to be fed into the system as it is produced, which can put pressure on a National Grid infrastructure originally designed to work with a small number of large providers, such as power stations.

Energy storage on the other hand uses battery systems to alleviate this demand on the network at times when there is oversupply, storing energy and releasing it back to the grid when production falls below consumption.

What else are energy providers looking for?

The one thing that equipment providers need as much as good grid access is suitable land to site the equipment on, which means if you have both of these things, you are in the box seat to realise good rental values, or possibly even a profitable land sale.

Generally, energy storage companies will be looking for at least one acre of land close to a substation or overhead power lines, but not residential housing. The land needs good vehicular access, should be relatively flat and will preferably be in an area with no designations that could delay planning permission, such as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) or a National Park, though this is not always a deal breaker.

How can I protect my interests?

While a new income stream may be on offer, you’ll want to seek assurances that you are getting the best deal, as well as knowing that the provider has the knowledge and experience to keep lead-in times associated with environmental assessment, planning permission and construction to a minimum. Minimising traffic and noise disturbances is another consideration if you want to avoid any disputes with neighbours.

At Robson & Liddle we are well placed to advise you on land valuation, and all other relevant land issues, as well as using our relationships with the professional community to ensure you get the right legal and financial advice.

For more information on leasing you land for renewable energy projects, or any other rural land and property issues, call Julie on 01768 254 354.