Talk to Tormeys: Impact of renewable energy projects on landowners
The Irish public are generally in agreement that we all have an obligation to reduce carbon emissions to protect the planet and our way of life.
The Irish Government have given binding commitments in this regard and this has resulted in the publication of climate action plans and policies to meet their targets.
One major policy area that is being pursued is the development of renewable energy projects.
Tormeys Solicitors have significant first-hand knowledge of the implications for landowners whose property may be impacted by these projects, more specifically wind and solar energy.
We have acted for many landowners who have been approached by energy companies and we have worked tirelessly to ensure that we secure the best possible deal for our clients and fully protect their interests.
There is a degree of complexity involved in the documentation furnished at the outset of a proposed renewable energy project.
Ultimately, the energy company wants to use a landowner’s property to facilitate the construction and maintenance of equipment and the ongoing use of the lands to produce energy.
At the outset, the energy company will look to secure an option to enter into a long term lease with the landowner, which will give the energy company the time and space to secure planning permission and a grid connection to the electricity network.
This period would also give the energy company the opportunity to negotiate with other landowners, outside the immediate project area, for the right to place cables, ducts, and wires to gain a physical connection between the project and the nearest sub-station.
It is our job to make sure that our clients are fully aware of the contractual obligations prior to them committing to signing the option.
The option and lease agreements will cover a multitude of issues relating to the rights and covenants affecting both the energy company and the landowner. Each project will have different conditions and criteria and it is our duty to outline to our clients, in the clearest possible terms, the legal and practical implications, not only during the option period, but the proposed lease period.
The main issues of importance include the following:
1. Option fee payment.
3. Bonus payments
4. Rights of way
5. Security fencing.
6. Restrictions on agricultural activity.
7. Insurance and indemnities.
8. Maintenance of hedgerows, ditches and drains.
9. Impact on farm payment or forestry grants.
10. Tax implications.
11. Restrictions on the development.
12. Consents from third parties (eg Bank)
13. Restoration funds
14. Location of substations and battery storage facilities
We have found that representing all of the landowners involved in a specific project, leads to significant efficiencies in progressing the transactions.
We can communicate with the legal representatives of the energy company in a manner that allows the landowners to act in a unified and co-ordinated manner.
At the outset of a project, there are often title issues which the landowners have to rectify, and we can look after this in a quick and speedy manner to avoid any chance of the landowner losing out on the prospect of agreeing a deal with the energy company.
The energy companies cover the landowner’s legal costs relating to the option agreement and lease.
On occasion, we have negotiated with these companies to secure their agreement to make a contribution in relation to any title upgrades that are required to the landowner’s property. Initially, the details of the scheme can be a little daunting for landowners and we take great pride in our ability to clarify, in a concise and easy to understand manner, all of the legal implications of the proposed arrangement.
If you have been approached by an energy company, please do not hesitate to contact us for guidance. We would welcome the opportunity to give you the benefit of our knowledge and experience in this area. We cannot overstate the importance of getting the right advice.
*The above article consists of general recommendations and should not be interpreted as legal advice. You should contact a Solicitor to secure advice specific to your individual requirements. In contentious business, a Solicitor may not calculate fees or other charges as a percentage or proportion of any award or settlement. Tormeys Solicitors have been serving the people of the midlands for almost a century, specialising in *Personal Injury, *Medical Negligence, *Conveyancing, *Probate, *Commercial Law, *Employment Law and *Family Law.
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