Friends of Queen Elizabeth Park Farnborough

Esso Plans to Destroy Queen Elizabeth Park

Esso wants to renew the Southampton to London Pipeline

The Southampton to London Pipeline carries aviation fuel from Esso’s oil refinery in Fawley to Heathrow Airport.

The route Esso have chosen goes right through Queen Elizabeth Park in Farnborough. Esso say…

“Construction would require the removal of a large portion of woodland vegetation along the southwestern edge of the park.” Environmental Statement (Volume D) Appendix 10.3: Visual Impact Schedules (item 41a, page 36)

This aerial view shows how much of the park could be lost:

Pipeline map Based on diagrams in Esso’s Land Plans (2 of 4), sheets 35 and 36 on p20, 21.

The yellow line shows the boundary of Queen Elizabeth Park. The exact position of the pipeline has not been decided but Esso wants it to be within the shaded area. The majority of this area is covered with mature woodland.

Esso wants to clear a 30 metre (100 foot) wide path through the park. This is about half the width of the park at its narrowest point. They might commit to clearing only half this width but even this will result in a huge loss of trees and devastate the character of the park. Esso will prevent new trees from being planted in this area, so the result will be a wide, empty space where the woodland used to be.

The Cabrol Road childrens’ play area is on the left-hand edge of the shaded area. Esso will remove the play area and use the space as a working area while they install the pipeline. Rushmoor Council have asked Esso to reinstate the play area when they have finished.

There is nothing else like Queen Elizabeth Park in Farnborough. Rushmoor Council say that it is…

“one of the few natural open spaces within Rushmoor” Rushmoor Borough Council written represenation 19/00432/PINS (section 11.1.1)

…and…

“It is well used and loved by the local population” Rushmoor Borough Council written represenation 19/00432/PINS (section 11.1.1)

The route of the pipeline will affect many communities but this website focuses on the damage that will be done to Queen Elizabeth Park in Farnborough.

What Esso want to do when they install the pipeline

Esso want to remove a huge area of trees so they can install the pipeline. They say…

“Construction would require the removal of a large portion of woodland vegetation along the southwestern edge of the park.” Environmental Statement (Volume D) Appendix 10.3: Visual Impact Schedules (item 41a, page 36)

…and…

Substantial tree loss would change the woodland character of this part of the park and would degrade the scenic quality of the view.” Environmental Statement (Volume D) Appendix 10.3: Visual Impact Schedules (item 41, page 36)

Esso wants to remove a large number of trees in Queen Elizabeth Park and yet most of the surrounding community and those who use it every day have no idea that this is about to happen.

Views like this will be lost forever Views like this will be lost forever.

What Esso want to do after they have installed the pipeline

Esso do not want any replacement trees to be planted in the park to replace the ones they have removed. Queen Elizabeth Park will never be the same again.

Esso say that want to check the route of the pipeline remains clear after it has been installed. One of the ways they will do this is by flying along the route of the pipeline every few weeks.

Esso also want to legally protect their rights to keep the area around the new pipeline clear. It will be illegal to plant anything which Esso does not approve of in the area around the pipeline.

Why is Esso allowed to do this?

The pipeline is classified as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP). Projects on this scale are evaluated and approved by the government via a Development Consent Order (DCO). Other projects which are carried out under a DCO are the HS2 railway line and the third runway at Heathrow. Each project has its own web page on the Planning Inspectorate’s website. Here is the page for the Southampton to London Pipeline Project.

DCOs overrule laws such as Tree Preservation Orders, protection of endangered species and even your human rights. The company applying for the DCO has to show that they have properly consulted the affected people and organisations. They must assess the impact of their plans on the environment and document them, even if they are bad for the surrounding community, wildlife and plants. When a DCO is granted by the Government, it overrules all the laws which you would expect to protect you and the environment.

This is the process which Esso is using. If the Government approves Esso’s plans, the DCO will allow them to clear a wide path through Queen Elizabeth Park and keep it clear for many years.

When will this happen?

Esso would like to start construction in 2021. They have published a timetable of the events leading up to the project start here. There are no details to say when construction will reach Queen Elizabeth Park.

The Planning Inspectorate must reach a decision on the DCO (Development Consent Order) by 9th April 2020. There are many stages in the process which leads up to this date and there is only limited time to make your views known. Find out more here.

You can also find out why Esso’s plan is unreasonable.