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Southampton to London Pipeline – DCO Granted for Strategic Fuel Pipeline

Alexander Booth QC
Charles Streeten

In a decision letter issued earlier this month, the Secretary of State determined to grant a Development Consent Order in respect of the Southampton to London Pipeline Project (‘the SLP’), promoted by Esso Petroleum Company (‘Esso’). 

The SLP is a nationally significant infrastructure project, and when constructed will run for some 97km between the Fawley Oil Refinery near Southampton and Esso’s West London Terminal at Hounslow. It will serve to supply aviation fuel to both Heathrow and Gatwick Airports, replacing existing infrastructure with a modern 300mm diameter pipeline.

The route will begin at Boorley Green in Hampshire, and run northwards through the administrative areas of Hampshire and Surrey County Councils, as well as the Greater London Authority, traversing some nine district and borough councils. Initial sections will run for some 25km through the South Downs National Park, and also cross land held by the National Trust.

The Examination held in respect of Esso’s application commenced in October 2019 and ran through to April 2020. Points of debate included the alleged impacts on the National Park, alleged harm to biodiversity, and the extensive powers of compulsory acquisition necessary to deliver the project, and

The Examining Authority reported on 7 July 2020, recommending that a DCO be made. The Secretary of State concurred with that recommendation; in particular agreeing with the Authority that the significant benefits and substantial weight for the need for the SLP outweighed any harm. The Secretary of State’s conclusions notably also include findings to the following effect:

  • There would be no likely significant effects on the character and setting of the South Downs National Park, 
  • The proposed development would have no likely significant effects on biodiversity, would accord with relevant legislation and policy requirements, and that mitigation would be secured; and 
  • There was a compelling case in the public interest to grant compulsory acquisition and temporary possession powers to facilitate the Development.

Alexander Booth QC, instructed by Angus Walker of BDB Pitmans, acted on behalf Esso to promote the DCO application.

Charles Streeten represented Thames Water at the DCO hearing sessions instructed by Beth Youngs of Birketts LLP.