Danger to buried oil pipelines when ditching & fencing

Landowners looking to undertake ditching or fencing works need to be aware that the UK has an extensive network of pipelines that bisect the country, transporting oil, gas and chemical products across country and through suburban areas.

The buried pipelines operate at high pressure (up to 50 times that of a car tyre) and are often only at a nominal depth of only one metre.  Due to the flammable, and potentially hazardous nature of the products contained, anyone proposing fencing or ditching works near to a pipeline needs to be aware of the potential dangers, what to do and who to contact before commencing works.

The BPA Lands team is here to help and are here to support landowners, contractors or others when working near to BPA’s buried pipelines by providing information and resource at no cost.  With the right information and advice, we hope to reduce the risk of a serious incident on the pipeline network that we manage.

However to ensure the best and safest outcomes for all we ask that those who are looking to undertake any works within three metres of a buried BPA pipeline to:

  1. Please give a minimum of 7 days notice before works begin. This will ensure we can fully support you with your proposed activities.
  2. Never assume you can go ahead unless consent is given. BPA’s team will be on hand to support your work, however, works should not begin until permission is granted.
  3. Be aware pipeline depths vary under ditches and are not always protected with slabs. Be aware that pipeline depths vary across the country and can often be found only a metre below the surface, they are also seldom protected with concrete slabs.
  4. Seek advice as pipelines do not always run in straight lines between marker posts. Although posts are used to mark the location of a pipeline at a field boundary, not all pipelines run in straight lines between posts. We’re here to help mark out the exact location.
  5. Be aware that other infrastructure, such as cables, can be buried shallower than the pipeline. Often there are other potentially hazardous or safety critical infrastructure buried along the pipeline lengths, these can be found at even shallower depth to the pipeline.

Please be aware that it’s also the landowner’s responsibility to ensure that contractors operating on their land comply with regulations.  Working near pipelines without taking the correct precautions can have serious consequences.

If there is any doubt, please contact a member of the BPA lands team on freephone 0800 585 387.