The project so far
The existing aviation fuel pipeline is one of several pipelines that Esso owns and operates across the UK. Few people are aware of these pipelines because there is little to see above ground. The existing pipeline was built between 1969 and 1972. It runs 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 existing pipeline is working adequately, but the need for inspections and maintenance is 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 will replace 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.
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.
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.
On 7 October 2020, we received UK Government permission to install the replacement pipeline following the extensive public examination process.
Autumn 2020 – Winter 2021
Installing the pipeline is a complex engineering challenge. After receiving permission to install the pipeline, we have been further developing the documents that govern how we will construct the replacement pipeline.
In spring 2021, we released a local area specific timeline for installation that we have submitted to the ten planning authorities along the 90km replacement pipeline route, alongside a suite of management documents. These documents are subject to the approval of the local authorities as per the requirements of our DCO and govern how we conduct installation.
To prepare for installing the pipeline, we will be carrying out early works in winter 2021. This will involve site preparation and vegetation clearance to make sure the areas we will be installing in are ready for construction.
We are also undertaking the trenchless installation in Chobham Common, starting in autumn 2021. This is because there are only a few months each year we can undertake installation due to the protected status of the wildlife present on the Common.
From December 2021
Other than at Chobham Common, we will be installing the pipeline from December 2021 and throughout 2022 and early 2023. To avoid disruption to local people, we’re using a variety of tried and tested construction techniques depending on the area we’re installing in. We’re planning our activities carefully to keep impacts low where disruption is unavoidable. Our local teams will work with communities to make sure they understand what we’re doing, how it might impact them and how they can find out more.