Can I Stop A Private Company From Installing High Voltage Cables Underneath My Property?

Note: The DearEsq free 'ask a lawyer' site is offered as a free informational service to the public and is not intended as legal advice. Laws vary from state-to-state, and in addition every situation is unique, and relevant facts may not be known. The answer to the question posed below may not apply to in your state or to your situation. For legal advice in your state and your situation you should consult with an attorney in your state who is familiar with the rules and laws in your state.

A private company wants to lay a high voltage line underneath the roadway outside my property in rural Ireland. I own half the rural road outside my property under Irish law. The council owns the top of road surface but I own underneath the road way? Can I stop a private company from laying high voltage cable which will be less than 3 meters from my water supply and 15 meters from my front door? Thank you for your help.

You live in Ireland and DearEsq deals with American laws. We have no expertise in Irish law, and you would benefit greatly in speaking with an Irish solicitor about this issue. However, Ireland and the United States both have legal systems based on common law, so the basic principles are the same. Although the interpretation of those principles may differ, and each country has its own set of statutes, the following answer (based on U.S. law) may provide you with guidance on what questions to ask a solicitor.

In the United States, roads, and the ground immediately below the road, are generally owned by the government. Sometimes, particularly with things like trails and railroads, the government only owns the surface as an easement, and the landowner continues to own the land itself. Under the first circumstance, you do not have property rights and could not stop the installation of the cable on those grounds. In the second instance, you would have property rights and could assert them. In the United States, however, the government could determine that it needed an easement underground for the cable and assert imminent domain. This would similarly prevent you from asserting property rights to halt the cable installation.

You would have another avenue for halting the installation is through a private nuisance claim. The general rule is that everyone has a right to the quiet enjoyment of his property. If something disrupts that quiet enjoyment, and an average person would recognize the disruption, you can file a claim of private nuisance against the party causing the disruption. Here, you could file a claim against the power company, but you would have to convince the court that the power line being so close to your water and home would be offensive to an average person. If you succeed, you can stop the company from laying the cable down so close to you.

Again, this answer applies U.S. laws and principles. It does not attempt to provide an answer based on Irish law. We recommend you speak with an Irish solicitor familiar with property issues.