Major GPSS project with OPA

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News article

Major project with Oil and Pipelines Agency

July 2011

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Fisher German’s utilities & infrastructure department is working on a major project for the Oil and Pipelines Agency (OPA).

OPA manages the nationwide network of oil pipelines, known as the Government Pipelines and Storage System (GPSS), on behalf of the Ministry of Defence (MOD), and has instructed Fisher German to deal with all land agency matters that relate to the relay of 28km of oil pipeline which runs between Tonbridge in Kent and Godstone in Surrey. Fisher German acts as retained land agents for the agency.

“The project is very exciting as it is the longest relay of government pipeline for 30 years and is the first to require the MOD to make a planning application for such works since losing Crown immunity from planning legislation in 2006. We prepared the application and submitted it on the MOD’s behalf,” says Matthew Willoughby of Fisher German.

“It’s been a stimulating and informative process for the entire project team at Fisher German, the MOD and local planning authorities.” Surveys have shown that the pipeline between Tonbridge and Godstone has a number of defects and has reached the end of its functional life.

“For obvious reasons there is a no leaks policy on oil pipelines so it has to be replaced before that possibility becomes a risk,” explains Matthew. “We’ve been involved with the project since 2007. Initial work involved consultation with landowners, local authorities and other interested parties as well as arranging access for the numerous ecological surveys that were required. We acquired all of the necessary rights in land and were granted planning consent by the three local planning authorities in December last year.”

Before allowing contractors on site the utilities & infrastructure department had to discharge a number of planning conditions in the short period of time available between consent being granted and the start of the bird nesting season, by which time all hedgerows along the route had to be removed.

Construction has started and the Fisher German project team is continuing to work with OPA, the contractors and the affected landowners to ensure the smooth running of the works.“It’s the first time that we’ve submitted a planning application for such a significant GPSS project and the team has done a fantastic job in meeting the client’s requirements,” explains Matthew.

For further information, please contact Matthew Willouhgby on 01530 410864 or email matthew.willoughby@fishergerman.co.uk

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