What about cables and pipes in private land? For cables and pipes in private land, a network operator must have permission from the landowner. Without permission from the landowner, the grid operator is generally not allowed to lay or maintain cable and pipeline networks. In exceptional situations, a grid operator may impose an easement obligation. In this way, a landowner can be forced to allow the construction and maintenance of networks.
Because a provision was included in the law in 2007 that regulates the ownership of networks (5:20 paragraph 2), fewer building rights for the benefit of utilities are established than in the past. Nowadays, a network operator is the owner of his network if he can prove that he has constructed the network with authority. In other words, whether he is authorized to carry out and maintain the work.
This authority may result from a concession, an agreement, the law or an imposed tolerance obligation. Thus, cooperation from a landowner is not always necessary. Nevertheless, it is still quite common for network operators to legally regulate the construction and maintenance of their facilities by means of a surface right.
In the past, pipeline laying companies regularly had to appeal to private landowners with a request to lay pipes (of public utility) in private property. This concerned pipelines for which - if the utility and necessity were established - an appeal could be made to the Privileges (Restrictions) Act.
A tolerance obligation may then be imposed if the interests of entitled parties do not reasonably require expropriation and the use of the property is not obstructed more than is reasonably necessary for the construction and maintenance of the work. The route must be the least onerous for the landowner. If the above criteria are not met, the imposition of a tolerance obligation is in principle not possible.
In the past, building rights have often been established for the construction of utilities. With a building and planting right - also known as a right in rem - you can own or acquire ownership of buildings, plants or other objects in or on someone else's real estate. Read more about this right of superficies on the divided part of a plot here.