EIA – Onshore Pipelines

Key Legislation:

For more detail on the Legislation relevant to this page, please use the following links:

Supporting Legislation:
Guidance Notes:

Various planning policy guidance notes (including guidance on EIA for onshore developments) are available at the following links:

For Scotland – Scottish Executive Planning Advice Notes (PANs)

For England – Communities and Local Government Planning Policy Guidance Notes (PPG) (archived)

For Wales – National Assembly for Wales Technical Advice Notes (TANs)

In November 2015, IEMA announced the launch of new guidance launched seeking to support EIA professionals to achieve better, faster outcomes to their assessments at a reduced cost. The two guides aim to ensure that environmental thinking is firmly embedded into the design process and realistic project resilience measures are in place

Pipeline Construction Authorisation:

Pipelines greater than 10 miles (16 km) long require a Pipeline Construction Authorisation (PCA) under the Pipelines Act 1962.

Under the Coast Protection Act 1949, consent from the Secretary of State for Transport is also required for any pipeline construction between low and high water marks that may interfere with navigation. Note: unlike offshore pipeline consents, this application is a separate process (see below).

Procedure to Determine if ES is required: A pipeline project must first be screened to determine if an EIA is required. This may be determined by the EIA regulations which provide guideline and criteria thresholds which request an EIA of projects that are likely to result in significant environmental impacts. Schedule 1 of the EIA provides a list of projects for which an EIA is mandatory. For example an ES is mandatory for the following pipeline projects:

  • Construction of a pipeline of > 40 km in length and more than 800 mm in diameter.
  • Construction of a pipeline where there may be transboundary issues and another EU state has requested participation in the planning process.

If the proposed project is listed in Schedule 2 and exceeds the associated thresholds, the operator can decide independently that an ES will need to be completed. Alternatively a written request may be made to the Secretary of State in advance of an application for a PCA, in order to determine if an ES is required known as a request for a scoping opinion. The request should be accompanied by:

  • A plan sufficient to identify the land which is the subject of the proposed application.
  • A brief description of the nature and purpose of the proposed developments and of its possible effects on the environment.
  • Further information or representations as the person making the request may wish to provide or make.

With sufficient information the Secretary of State (DECC) will consult the local planning authority regarding the need for an ES. The local planning authority shall give its view within 3 weeks of the date it was consulted. If satisfied that no ES is required, DECC will issue a Direction stating its decision. This Direction will remain valid for 12 months from the date of issue. Schedule 2 to the 2000 Regulations details the matters that will be taken into account in making a Direction, including size of pipeline, use of natural resources, location of proposed works and characteristics of the potential impacts.

Alternatively an application for a PCA may be submitted without an ES. Following receipt of the application DECC may be determine that an ES is required, and will notify the applicant. The applicant subsequently has 3 weeks to inform the DECC that an EIA will be undertaken and an ES submitted. If the applicant does not inform DECC within 3 weeks, the application will be refused.


Early informal consultation with interested parties is highly recommended rather than waiting for the period of formal consultation (see below). Organisations that should be considered for early consultation include:

  • English Heritage or Historic Scotland
  • Natural England, Countryside Commission for Wales or Scottish Natural Heritage
  • Environment Agency (EA) or Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA)
  • Crown Estate Office
  • Other transport industries including British Telecom, Railtrack, Public Electricity Supply Companies, Oil and Pipelines Agency, and local Coal Authorities
  • Country Landowners Association or Scottish Landowners Federation;
  • National Farmers Union or National Farmers Union of Scotland and other local equivalents
  • Farming and Rural Conservation Agency (England) or Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group (FWAG) (Scotland)
  • Local planning authorities
  • Health and Safety Executive
Preparing an ES:

The contents of the ES must satisfy the requirements of Regulation 2 of the 2000 Regulations, and include in particular:

  • A description of the proposed pipeline works.
  • A description of the aspects of the environment likely to be significantly affected by the proposed pipeline works.
  • A description of the likely significant effects which may result from the existence of the proposed pipeline, the use of natural resources and emission of pollutants, nuisances and elimination of waste.
  • A non-technical summary.

Guidance can also be obtained from the Guidelines for the Environmental Assessment of Cross Country Pipelines 1992, that can be obtained from The Stationery Office.

How to apply: An application for a PCA must contain the following information:

  • A completed PL2 (see Appendix 2 of the Guidance Notes under the Legislation tab).
  • Three sets of maps showing the route of the pipeline on a scale of not less than 1/10,000, indicating the proposed route, land ownership and occupancy boundaries amongst others. An additional 25 copies of the map must also be submitted.
  • Rights of access presented in the form of a “Schedule of Owners and Occupiers”.
  • Three copies of an Environmental Statement where appropriate, or a copy of the Direction giving the decision that an ES is not required.

Once the application is received, copies of the map will be circulated by DECC to all the local planning authorities and other interested bodies and comments received will be passed back to the applicant.

A Public Consultation period then follows. The applicant will be informed by DECC of the form of the Public Notice, including newspapers it should appear in and organisations on whom notices (along with copies of the ES) are to be served. The public consultation period will last for 28 days. Any objections will be subject to consideration and where appropriate, DECC has the powers to hold a Public Inquiry to deal with such objectives, in particular if raised by any local planning authority.

Once any objections have been resolved, it is open to DECC to grant or refuse the application. The authorisation may include planning conditions including mitigation measures to reduce any significant environmental impact. Pipeline construction must have commenced within 12 months of issue of the PCA.

Who to apply to: Applications must be submitted to:
DECC Oil and Gas Division,
1 Victoria Street,
Tel: 020 7215 5151
Fax: 020 7215 5292

If the pipeline route crosses the coastal zone between the low and high water marks, a separate application must also be made to the Department for Transport for consent under the Coast Protection Act 1949.

When to apply:

Applications may be submitted at any time, however it is recommended that depending on the sensitivity of the project, that the application be submitted between 3-6 months prior to planned construction.

Conditions in Consent:

The Pipeline Construction Authorisation is likely to contain conditions. Conditions normally included are described in Appendix 3 to the Guidance Notes on the Pipeline Act 1962.

Transboundary Effects:

If the project is likely to have significant transboundary effects these must be addressed in the EIA and reported in the ES.

When seeking a Direction under the Regulations, the requirement for an EIA will also be determined (amongst other things) by the likelihood and significance of transboundary impacts.

 Not directly applicable.
 Not directly applicable.
Project proceeds in breach of requirements:

Regulation 13 gives the Secretary of State powers to apply to the court for an order for pipeline works to be removed where there has been a failure to comply with the Regulations. If an applicant fails to comply with such an order, then the Secretary of State can remove the works and recover reasonable costs from the applicant.

Regulation 14 of the 2000 Regulations makes it an offence, subject to certain exceptions, to carry out pipeline works without a PCA or to intentionally break the terms of a condition of any PCA. It is also an offence to supply false or misleading information.

Renewal: Planning approval will set a timescale for the project to go ahead. If the project does not go ahead within this time, then a new application/renewal of ES will be required.

Any project variation that may alter the findings of the EIA undertaken must be notified to the planning authority. They may request additional environmental information to be supplied. For significant variations, they may request an additional EIA be undertaken and ES submitted as this may qualify as a project modification.

The Gas Act 1986 (Exemptions) (Revocations) Order 2013 Notice:

The Order will revoke a series of orders concerning a number of exemptions from the requirement under Section 5 of the Gas Act 1986 to hold a licence for the conveyance, supply and shipping of gas.

The Gas Act 1986 (Exemptions) (Revocations) Order 2013 notice (PDF document) was produced by DECC.