What's in the Pipeline?

Submitted by Anonymous on Fri, 03/02/2007 - 17:43

National Grid are building a huge new gas pipeline across South Wales. The project is dangerous and undemocratic. Come and join the growing wave of protests against it.


The gas won’t be coming from the North Sea fields. It is coming all the way from Qatar in massive supertankers to Milford Haven Harbour. Then it will be pumped through the 120-mile long pipeline to Gloucestershire.
National Grid are building it. They used to be a public utility, but have become a private company. This £6 billion project is the single largest energy-project financing ever(1) and the terminal at Milford Haven will be the biggest LNG receiving terminal in the world (2).

In the USA it is illegal to put an LNG harbour within 5 km of a human settlement.


If there was an accident it is estimated that 20,000 lives could be at risk from "a highly inflammable cloud several miles long" (3).

- Milford Haven’s most experienced shipping pilots have described the risk of a fatal collision at one of the terminals as a ‘real everyday possibility’ (4). Each supertanker contains over 50 Hiroshima’s worth of explosive power (5). The pipeline itself is also huge - 4ft in diameter. It will run at 94bar pressure – that is 96kg per cm2, which is higher than any other pipe in Europe or the US. The Health & Safety Executive said in their risk assessment that there will be a hole during the 30-year lifespan of the pipe.

They wouldn’t put a pipeline like this through Surrey!

Welsh lives and countryside have often been collateral damage in the hunt for power and profit. In Aberfan in 1966, 144 people, mostly children, died in a disaster caused by the National Coal Board’s shocking disregard for safety. The coal board wriggled out of full costs of the clean-up operation. Parents were grudgingly given £500 per child as compensation. No NCB employee was sacked, demoted or even disciplined.

What has changed?

The new corporate manslaughter bill is weak and toothless. No large corporation has ever been found guilty of corporate manslaughter. National Grid are a privatised utility. But even though they have become private, they still have the power of compulsory purchase! How can it be right for them to be able to use this power in the pursuit of profits? Since privatisation, NG have shed thousands of engineering jobs and cut maintenance work. This same corporation, accountable to only its shareholders and board, is now responsible for the safety of thousands of people along the route of this pipe. The area around Trebanos is prone to land-slip, and is so unstable that villagers are not allowed to have mains gas supplied.

Belgium Gas explosion

National Grid’s Safety Record

In 1999, a family of four were killed in Scotland when a high-pressure gas pipe exploded by their home. Massive corrosion in the pipeline, and a failure on the part of National Grid/Transco to keep adequate records on what kind of pipes were being used, led to the explosion. Corrosion has already been seen on the welds in the South Wales pipeline.

Climate Chaos:

"Limiting global warming to a 2 degree increase with a relatively high certainty requires the equivalent concentration of CO2 to stay below 400 ppm “ (6).

More than a 2C rise and we risk runaway climate change. Achieving this means rich countries like the UK cutting emissions by around 90% by 2030 - not 60% by 2050, as the Stern report says. A 90% cut in 25 years is going to require not just new technologies, but different cultures, different economies, different expectations - in short, a different way of life.

The terminal and the gas pipe will help open up new markets and some people will make huge amounts of money. It will delay the transition from fossil fuels by decades at a critical moment in human history. It is a bogus solution. Talking about gas as a transition fuel is a distraction from what we urgently need: an end to the fossil fuel growth economy and a switch to clean, decentralised, renewable energy. By the time this gas pipe reaches the end of its life we will be past the year we need to have 90% cuts.

Environmental Destruction:

The Pipeline leaves a swath of destruction as wide as a motorway. It runs through the Brecon Beacon National Park, through Sites of Scientific Special Interest and ancient woodlands.

Protest so far

There has been protest in many places along the length of the pipeline, and there is a whole lot more to come. Protesters have occupied building sites and stopped work at Trebanos, at Milford Haven and at Cilfrew. They have used walking and static blockades, lock-ons and occupied cranes and other machinery. There have been marches, public meetings, info-stalls and a lot of media coverage.
On Tues 13th Feb, activists blocked the road at the Milford Haven terminal for 6 hours by locking themselves together. Meanwhile others were arrested near the fence leading to the jetty.

Brecon protest camp has been evicted. New camps further East remain a distinct possibility. The Brecon camp was in beautiful woodland next to a stream in the Brecon Beacons National Park on the route of the planned pipe.

There is an A4 leaflet, called "What's in the pipeline?" with all this stuff on, which it would be brilliant to get printed out and distributed around the country. Email us at bristol@risingtide.org.uk and we can send them to you.

24th March 2007: Trebanos Carnival

Music and laughter filled the streets of Trebanos as people who had met though the protests against the pipeline took a day off to enjoy the spring sunshine together. 5 dogs, 1 goat, 1 pony , 31 children and 79 adults took to the streets in a variety of costumes. An eight piece Samba Band led the procession which covered the length of the village and took in back streets to make sure no-one was left out. Those unable to join in cheered from their gardens and passing drivers beeped their horns.

Some footage from the Trebanos anti-pipeline carnival

More information:

Ongoing coverage of the protests on Indymedia

Schnews newsletter #569 and #576.


1 The agreement was the third-largest project financing of any kind, after the Channel Tunnel and a Taiwanese high-speed rail financing. Banks with major roles in the project financing include HSBC, Barclays, Royal Bank of Scotland and Citigroup.
2 http://education.independent.co.uk/careers_advice/engineering/article19…
3 http://pembrokeshiretv.com/content/templates/v6-article.asp?articleid=1…
4 http://pembrokeshiretv.com/content/templates/v6-article.asp?articleid=2…
5 http://timrileylaw.com/LNG_TANKERS.htm
6 http://www.stabilisation2005.com/Steering_Commitee_Report.pdf