The project so far


Introducing the project

Winter 2017/18

Our underground distribution pipeline network transports fuel around the UK. Few people are aware of these pipelines because there is little to see above ground. The original pipeline was built between 1969 and 1972. It ran from our Fawley Refinery near Southampton to our West London Terminal storage facility in Hounslow. Pipelines are a safe way to transport fuel. This pipeline will keep around 100 road tankers off the road every day*.

The original pipeline was working adequately, but the need for inspections and maintenance was increasing. It is just like your car; you reach a point where it makes more sense to replace it.

In December 2017, we announced this project. It replaced 90km of our 105km underground aviation fuel pipeline. Throughout the project we have written to local authorities, landowners and other organisations to let them know about our project and our timeline to start of construction.

*Based on Esso’s 2015 data for its existing pipeline.

Route development and public consultations

Spring – Autumn 2018

The pipeline route was developed between March 2018 and March 2019. During this period, we held three public consultations to inform the development and selection of the final route:

1. In March/April 2018, we ran a consultation in which we asked for your views on six corridor options with corridors being typically around 200 metres wide. In May 2018, following an in-depth analysis of the work done to date, as well as your feedback, we selected corridors G and J to take to the next stage. When combined, these formed the single preferred corridor.

2. In September/October 2018, we ran a consultation where we asked for your views on the preferred route for the replacement pipeline. A route is typically in the region of 20-30 metres wide for the installation period. This consultation also included an early indication of potential environmental impacts and mitigations.

3. In January/February 2019 we ran a consultation seeking views on design refinements. These refinements were developed in response to consultation feedback and this consultation helped us make sure that we had selected the most appropriate route for the replacement pipeline.

4. In March 2019, we released the final route and confirmed our intention to submit our application for Development Consent.

Development Consent Order, application and Examination

May 2019 – October 2020

Due to the length and purpose of the replacement pipeline, under the Planning Act 2008 this project is a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project. Our application for permission to install the replacement pipeline is called a Development Consent Order (often referred to as a ‘DCO’).  DCOs are submitted to the Planning Inspectorate and determined by the relevant Secretary of State.

Our DCO application was accepted for examination by the Planning Inspectorate in June 2019.

Between summer 2019 and autumn 2020, a thorough examination and consideration of our proposals took place through the DCO process. During this stage, Interested Parties were invited to provide more details of their views in writing and the Examining Authority asked for written questions. Interested Parties were also invited to attend the hearings held as part of the examination phase.

Consent (approval) received from UK Government

October 2020

On 7 October 2020, we received UK Government permission to install the replacement pipeline following the extensive public examination process.

Planning for construction such as permits, approvals and detailed design

Autumn 2020 – Winter 2021

After receiving permission to install the pipeline, we further developed the documents that govern how we constructed the replacement pipeline.

Local area specific timetable

Spring 2021

In spring 2021, we released a local area specific timeline for installation that we submitted to the ten planning authorities along the 90km replacement pipeline route, alongside a suite of management documents. These documents were subject to the approval of the local authorities as per the requirements of our DCO and governed how we conducted installation.

Pipeline installation

From December 2021

Construction works to install the replacement pipeline began in late 2021 and were completed in 2023. During 2024 localised works to complete final reinstatement works will be taking place. We undertake reinstatement during the most appropriate season to meet our environmental commitments. Our plans for reinstatement are agreed with the landowners. All vegetation reinstatement is subject to five years of aftercare. For more information about reinstatement of vegetation in your area, you can view our Landscape and Ecological Management Plan (LEMP) in the Document Library.