Esso is planning to replace 90km of its 105km underground aviation fuel pipeline that runs from Southampton to London. A large portion of the existing pipeline, and the proposed new route for the replacement pipeline, passes through Surrey Heath.
Esso has been consulting local residents, but they have raised significant concerns regarding the Turf Hill portion of the proposed pipeline in Lightwater.
Michael met local Councillors and concerned residents in August 2019, and wrote to Esso, the Planning Inspectorate, Surrey Heath Borough Council and Natural England to raise his constituents’ objections.
You can view Michael’s objection letter of 31 July 2019 to the Planning Inspectorate here.
In January 2020, Michael wrote again to Esso to ask if the proposed route for the pipeline can be changed following the Planning Inspectorate’s visit to the site. Following that, Michael discussed Esso's proposals with Affinity Water, as Esso wishes to use its easement in Turf Hill.
In March 2020, Michael met representatives of Natural England, and had a further meeting with the team at Esso.
Following those discussions, in April 2020 Michael chaired a Zoom meeting between residents, Councillors, Affinity Water, Natural England and Esso to ensure that all parties had the opportunity to hear the points of view of local residents.
On 8 April 2020, Michael made a further submission to the Planning Inspectorate to reiterate his concerns about the Turf Hill portion of the pipeline, and to also highlight the potential impact of Esso’s proposal on the Windlemere and St Catherine’s SANGs in Surrey Heath. You can read his submission in full here.
Following the wildfire at Turf Hill in May 2020, Michael wrote to the Planning Inspectorate to highlight the significant damage to the area, and asked for this information to be considered. As the examination period has now closed, however, his correspondence has been passed to the Rt Hon Alok Sharma MP, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, so that he can take the submission into account.
To follow-up, Michael then wrote directly to Alok to ensure he was fully aware of the situation at Turf Hill, and that the environmental considerations concerning the routing of the pipeline may have the potential to be reconsidered. Michael asked him to thoroughly examine the impact this fire had on the area in question, as he felt the change in circumstances will have had significant bearing on the decision.
Unfortunately, having examined all submissions, the Planning Inspectorate and the Rt Hon Alok Sharma MP have since approved Esso’s proposed route through Turf Hill, and you can find the report explaining precisely why here. Michael will now be working with residents and councillors to ensure that Esso sticks to its Site-Specific Plan for Turf Hill, in turn safeguarding against the risk of unnecessary tree felling and preserving the natural beauty of the area.