UK: Pipelines And Other Hazardous Installations – Development Constraints

Last Updated: 11 March 2011
Article by Robin Corbett

The recent issue over planning permission for a small part of the extended site of the T in the Park festival gives some profile to an issue which can sometimes come as a surprise to developers and land owners.

The issue is this. Certain facilities and infrastructure are classified as "hazardous installations". This has an impact on the willingness or ability of planning authorities to grant planning permission. Developments in certain proximities to hazardous installations must be referred by the relevant planning authority to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). HSE will analyse the application, and will give the planning authority guidance in terms "advise against" or "don't advise against". It is then for the planning authority to take account of that advice in determining how to deal with the planning application. Decision makers are expected to ensure that new development does not significantly worsen the consequences should a major accident occur.

Obviously there may be issues for development in proximity to visible installations, such as chemical production facilities. No doubt there are also issues over who might actually want to live or work in proximity to facilities of that kind.

Less obvious, however, is the impact on the planning process of high pressure cross-country pipelines carrying "hazardous" substances. While the country is not exactly criss-crossed with these, a significant number exist in the UK, and in Scotland in particular, often running underground for many kilometres. (It was one of these (the BP Forties pipeline) which caused the issue for T in the Park.)

HSE publish guidance as to its approach in considering development proposals in proximity to hazardous installations. This allows planning authorities (and others) to assess the likely HSE advice in relation to any particular proposal. The so-called PADHI tests (planning advice for developments near hazardous installations) review a number of aspects in order to reach a conclusion. The main ones are:-

  • the position of the proposed development in certain "zones" delineated around the installation;
  • the intended use of the development; and
  • the number of people likely to be within the development, when completed, and their vulnerability.(For example, an outdoor event producing substantial increase in numbers, even over a short period, is assessed as very vulnerable if outside, and with access difficult for emergency services.)

The "zones" concept works as follows. HSE identify certain distances from the installation, which it designates as inner, middle and outer zones. The risk in the inner zone is the greatest, and the risk diminishes with distance from the facility.

The overall aim of HSE is to manage population growth close to hazards, with the intention of mitigating the consequences of an accident. Obviously, this is by no means theoretical – recent UK incidents at Flixborough and Buncefield come to mind.

In the specific case of pipelines, the consultation zones run on each side of the pipeline. (For standing installations, the zones are concentric circles, with the installation at the centre.)

The result is that along the length of a pipeline there is effectively an invisible planning constraint.

Pipeline operators, whether entirely in the private sector (oil companies for example) or possessed of statutory powers (for example, Transco) almost without exception have rights through land based (in Scotland) on Deeds of Servitude for (in England) easement deeds.

These will typically contain clauses providing for the situation where development is prevented or restricted. The terms of these clauses will vary depending on the operator and, commonly, depending on the age of the pipeline. The essence will be that, when given notice that there is a restriction or prevention of development because of the presence of the pipeline (normally only because of the presence of the pipeline) the operator will have several options. These will normally include payment of compensation on some specified basis, protective measures on or around the pipeline to mitigate risk (and therefore improve HSE's view of the situation) or diversion of the pipeline. Colloquially, these clauses are sometimes referred to as "lift or pay" clauses. That description is both an over-simplification, and misleading. Developers and land owners should not assume that obtaining benefit from these clauses will be a simple matter.

Developers should also appreciate that diversion of a high pressure hazardous pipeline is a very different matter indeed from diversion of normal utilities. All sorts of issues arise, including identifying a shut-down window, assessing a new route (if possible at all) and methodology for the diversion. Significant pipelines are part of national infrastructure; costs for diversion are more likely to be in the millions than in the thousands.

What can a prospective developer do? Firstly, if the existence of a pipeline is known or suspected, the issue should be addressed at an early stage in working up a development proposal. The planning authority should in most cases be aware of any hazardous installation issue. The PADHI analysis can be run to get early guidance on whether there is likely to be an issue (although this is not a substitute for necessary referral to HSE at some point in the process). It may be possible to mitigate the effect – for example having the pipeline under areas used for structural landscaping, or putting the areas at risk to a use which minimises human presence for any more than short periods.

Early consultation of the pipeline operator is also important. The operator will commonly have experience in relation to the mitigation measures and may be able to assist in relation to design of the development. Alternatively, if zoning and risk issues appear insuperable, then the developer and the land owner can form a view at an early stage of how, if at all, to exercise rights under the Deed of Servitude (etc).

Clearly, this is not an everyday issue. When it does arise, however, it can raise significant complications. Particularly in relation to small scale developments, where the developer and/or the land owner may not have resource to engage with a pipeline operator, it can put an end to development prospects. Over the decades, it seems that pipelines, where possible, have been routed to avoid population and likely centres of population. With passage of time, development and population may well have crept towards the pipeline at various locations. Alternatively, there are instances of a pipeline being routed originally across a "blasted heath" which, while unlikely to be developed conventionally, may now be seen as a potential site for a windfarm!

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.