A high-pressure Gas Pipeline routes straight through the Beacon Garden Villages.
In this episode of Twaddle a KPS group-member, alerted to the issue by a CW Herlad readers letter, investigated this potential hazardous oversight in the Masterplan. As you can see from the map above the ‘high pressure gas pipeline’, which carries much of the gas for the whole of the U.K. down it’s pipe, routes straight through the majority of the Beacon Garden Villages. It runs parallel to the proposed Northern Relief road for much of the way, is under the proposed industrial site by Junction 41, by Stagstones Farm it becomes even more interesting as it has the new spine road above it and is beside the proposed new secondary school. Half an hour of googling gives anyone a good idea of what a problem this is but page 75 of the LUC Technical Appraisal pays little regard to this issue.
We have been told, that even at this stage, EDC are still waiting to hear from British Gas about how the pipeline might affect the Masterplan. They may be waiting some time as the pipeline is controlled by National Grid, not British Gas!
Having just spoken to the EDC Planning Policy Team, I was a little surprised to discover, they were still waiting for information regarding the high pressures gas pipeline which runs around the northeast of the Beacon, from British Gas. The pipeline is controlled by National Grid, not British Gas, and I was able to find it’s route in about 30 minutes online. Page 75 of the LUC Technical Appraisal pays little regard to the issue of a gas pipeline, and I was advised that EDC have not yet contacted the HSE, who apparently decide the specifics of easement and what planning constraints may be required. For those of you who would like some further reading we have put a few links below with a brief explaination of what they contain.
Furthermore, EDC have not yet contacted the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) about the specifics of building around a high pressure gas pipeline.
This is important because when it goes wrong, disaster follows. That’s why we have a brilliant Health and Safety Executive and regulators in the U.K. to ensure this doesn’t happen.
It would appear the issues around the gas pipeline, and it’s importance to the plan’s viability, have not been considered in any great depth, by LUC or EDC.
Local Authorites have a statutory duty to notify the HSE of major developments proposed near major hazard pipelines. specialist software PADH can then be used to decide if plans are safe or not and to suggest easement distances for new dwellings.
Easement regulations for development near major hazardous pipelines indicate a distance of 55m, this is from the property boundary (i.e. includes garden space). There are even stricter regulations for easement near schools and public spaces (for more info see the post update at the end of the page).
low flying is required to check the pipelines:
Gas pipelines are legally subject to monitoring for leaks and damage using low flying helicopters which sometimes use lasers to detect the methane leaks. They need to fly at 300 feet to survey the pipeline area. But the helicopters are prohibited from flying below 1000 feet above built up areas – Big Problem.
In order to check for gas leaks the ground is zapped with customized LIDAR (a form of laser)
Gas pipelines are legally subject to monitoring for leaks and damage caused by several threats such as subsidence, fires, erosion, third party activity and construction. The inspection is usually carried out by helicopter, for speed and efficiency, except for built up areas, and the leaks can be detected by something akin to LIDAR, a laser light radar mapping system. A specific frequency of laser is used to detect the methane leak. Several things spring immediately to mind. Gas pipelines are laid away from built up areas for obvious safety reasons (see above link). Nor would I like a low flying helicopter over my house inspecting a pipeline 15 metres away.
According to the UK Onshore Pipeline Operators Association, these inspections can occur as frequently as every 2 weeks, and the helicopters may occasionally need to land.
If, as discussed earlier, the single-engined helicopters, used by pipeline inspection companies, are prohibited from overflying built up areas at the 300 feet necessary to carry out the inspection how could they perform their task?
Finally, would you like to live in a Beacon Garden Village knowing that a helicopter is bombarding you and your family with this? ‘At the heart of the system is a two pulse differential LIDAR set-up. ‘A seeded Nd:YAG laser emitting at 1064 nm feeds its 100 Hz dual pulse output (15 mJ/pulse) into a custom OPO, which is operated in ring cavity mode and emits in the 3 μm region’. I would not like to be zapped by this every 2 weeks, in my new Beacon Garden Village homes, just metres from a high pressure gas pipeline!
So the Masterplan was produced at a cost of £45,000 we have been told, yet the issues around the gas pipeline and it’s importance to the plan’s viability have not been considered in any great depth. Yet more evidence of a poorly produced plan, and a possible separate agenda.
Links for further reading:
Strategic Gas Pipleline running along the boundary a matter of concern
A good explanation of the National Grid – Protection regulatory framework.
Assesing the risks from High Pressure Natural Gas Pipelines – Institute of Fas Engineers and Managers.
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Post update by KPS researcher on 26/10/2018
Just spoken with Wayne Smith from National Grid and he mentioned a couple of things which cause more issues for the Masterplan.
Page 89 of the LUC technical appraisal document shows an easement of 15m in total with roads and trees. The actual easement requirement is 12.2m either side, so 24.4m! Page 89 shows roads, drives and gardens within this 24.4m. Wayne stated it is possible to upgrade or move the pipeline, at a cost of millions, and that fences are allowed to cross the pipeline. Anything like roads would depend on depth of the foundations.
He was also aware of the aerial inspection restriction of 1000 feet over built up areas. However, when I mentioned 5500 homes he said HSE could possibly impose a 200m building restriction, yes two hundred metres!
This would be the end of phase 2, most of phase 1 and much of the industrial area. EDC’s rush to spend £45,000 on this plan is staggering!