Due to its linear nature, new grid infrastructure often requires a long continuous line of accessible land for construction and maintenance. This means that large tracts of land, with a large number of respective owners, have to be crossed. The gaining of appropriate ownership and access to this land is a constant challenge for TSOs. A common tool for gaining such ownership and access is through financial compensation. It is considered as right that those impacted by a project should be properly compensated for the hosting of important pieces of national infrastructure on their land or in their communities.
In most cases, compensation is offered to those that hold a legally recognised entitlement to the land, or to those whose businesses will be negatively impacted by any phase of the project. The TSO will look to make private agreements with landowners based on a set of internal formulae, which calculate the price that should be offered for purchase or rights of access. If a price cannot be agreed upon, then most jurisdictions have a public body that overseas appeals from the landowner, and can (in rare cases) force the sale or rights of access to the land. In this situation, compensation is paid at a set rate, which may be lower than the rate initially offered.
Recently, there has been interest in expanding those eligible for compensation. This would mean that communities more broadly could be eligible for payment. Through a transparent and well-designed mechanism, communities could access funds for local projects that enrich the lives of people living in the communities hosting nationally important infrastructure. This could also have the impact of improving local community acceptance of new grid lines, and the long-term image of the operating TSO. Such an expansion of these “local payments” does not come without its concerns and question marks, with work on going internally with RGI members and beyond.