A303 Stonehenge

The views expressed in this page do not represent those of the Planning Inspectorate. This page consists of content submitted to the Planning Inspectorate by the public and other interested parties, giving their views of this proposal.

A303 Stonehenge

Received 10 January 2019
From Esso Petroleum Company, Limited


Dear Sirs

Esso Petroleum Company, Limited (Esso) and its agents, Fisher German, have been engaging with Highways England (HE) in relation their proposals for the A303 at Stonehenge (the Project) since 04 October 2017.

The Project potentially impacts and interferes with Esso's existing underground 6” fuel pipeline which runs from Esso’s Fawley refinery near Southampton to Esso’s fuel distribution terminal at Avonmouth. This pipeline is one of a network of fuel distribution pipelines that form a critical part of the UK’s fuel supply network. Please note that Esso has funded, constructed and now operates this pipeline as a private company and not pursuant to any statutory undertaker powers. This pipeline is protected by easements secured through deeds of grant with the individual landowners and occupiers who host the pipeline.

Construction works near or over the Esso pipeline can damage the pipeline or affect its future operation for the following reason.
• Restriction of future access by surcharging the pipeline easement, thus rendering the pipeline unsafe should a fault or feature be identified by future in line inspections.
• Third party damage during construction including strikes and pipeline failure due to repeated heavy plant crossing
• Stress to the pipeline by overburdening without correct support

Subject to the comments below, whilst Esso does not have concerns with the Project as a whole, Esso does have concerns over any impact to the operation of its pre-existing pipeline. Esso therefore objects to any interference with. extinguishment or suspension of the land rights relating to the pipeline or any Project activity that risks the operation of the pipeline. Barring infrequent maintenance, the pipeline operates on a continual 24/7 basis and interruption to its operation will have a significant impact on fuel supply in the south west of England and will have serious financial consequences for Esso.

From Esso's engagement with HE to date, we understand that HE ‘s order limits at Ordnance Survey Grid Ref 407031,141374 encompass Esso's pipeline (and in particular the 6.125 meter “easement strip” where potentially damaging operations are prohibited by the land owner). This creates a risk to the pipeline.
In addition HE has requested that Esso divert its pipeline in this area. The diversion will be in parallel to the existing line and constructed out of heavier wall pipe to allow for the over burden from the A303 Amesbury to Berwick Down Project. It is necessary to reflect that Esso will not gain future access to its pipeline as a result of the planned new road level. Any such works requires alternative land to be made available to us and requires careful planning and co-ordination to ensure the continued operation of the pipeline during the diversion works and wider Project construction works.

There are therefore two areas in which HE and Esso will need to reach agreement. Firstly, the protective provisions to be included within the DCO regarding how HE will work in proximity to the pipeline asset, and secondly a diversion agreement to cover the funding, routing, procurement, associated land rights and construction of the requested pipeline diversion and subsequent abandonment of the diverted section of pipeline. Any such diversion will need to allow for the continued operation of the pipeline during the construction and commission of the diversion works. Esso fully expects these works to be at HE’s costs and in addition Esso expects, in the usual way, that HE will cover its advisor's costs in preparing and negotiating the protective provisions and the necessary agreements to cover the diversionary works.

Esso have internally prepared drafts of the relevant protective provisions and diversion agreement. Esso's lawyers, VWV, first approached Pinsent Masons (lawyers for HE) for a cost undertaking on 22 August 2018. VWV finally received an acceptable undertaking for protective provisions on 24 October and sent Pinsent Masons Esso's proposed protective provisions on 22 October 2018. To date Esso or VWV have not received any response or comment on these proposals.
VWV also requested on 31 October 2018 that an extended undertaking be provided to cover the diversion agreement. To date, VWV has not received this undertaking.

Therefore, despite Esso's (and its advisors) best efforts and its proactive engagement with HE, Esso is unable to progress at this stage the necessary documentation or state it is close to an agreed position with HE. Esso is confident that the parties, acting responsibly, will be able to progress matters but at this stage Esso must make a relevant representation regarding the risk to its pipeline asset and Esso objects to any interference or risk by the Project to this asset and its related land rights.

Esso looks forward to updating the Planning Inspectorate upon the state of negotiations and, if necessary, detailing our continued concerns in subsequent written representations to the Planning Inspectorate.