IPSWICH City Council is calling on Moonie-Brisbane oil pipeline owner Santos to take steps to address the situation of residents living along the pipeline who have been left in limbo since it was decommissioned. Santos needed to make their intentions clear regarding the 300km long pipeline.
Santos decided to close the pipeline after a major spill at Algester in July 2007 of more than 100,000 litres of oil caused 400 homes to be evacuated. This followed on from the $300,000 they were fined in 2004 with cleanup costs of approximately $2 million after oil from the pipeline spilled into mangroves near the mouth of the Brisbane River at Lytton.
Santos needs to act to extinguish the easements which they held along the pipeline which runs through Ipswich from Grandchester to Carole Park and travels through Brisbane’s southern suburbs to the Port of Brisbane. They have left the residents living along its length in limbo as they are unable to undertake any developments in the easements along the pipeline.
The registered easement associated with the pipeline is approximately 18m wide and reduces to 6m through the Brisbane metropolitan area.This means residents cannot further develop part of their own property because of the need to keep obstructions away from a pipeline which is no longer in use.
Currently, any activity conducted by an individual or company within 200 metres of the pipeline requires referral to Santos and this is not good enough as the pipeline no longer contains or transports oil and its is not envisaged that the pipeline will ever be used again. Encroachments which have not been allowed in the easement area in the past include pools, garden sheds and large trees.
The easement also affects works over or adjacent to the pipeline and easement such as excavation (hand or machinery), tree planting, moving heavy equipment, building drains, changing land profiles, trenching, boring, blasting and building structures. In all these situations, prior written approval is required from Santos. In a recent case, a Bellbird Park property owner adjacent to the pipeline was prevented from further developing his land by Santos.”
The maintenance of encroachment restrictions was acceptable while the pipeline was in operation but this was no longer the case. The pipeline has been drained of oil and is just sitting there idle. Santos have publicly stated that they did not plan to re-open the pipeline again so why are they continuing to hold on to the easement conditions and hold these residents to ransom.
They need to relinquish their rights over the easement and free up this land for future development. As long as Santos refuses to remove the physical infrastructure the conditions contained in the registered easement documents still apply to the affected properties along the pipeline’s length.
The Moonie to Brisbane pipeline was built in 1964 and was the first trunk oil pipeline built in Australia. It was designed to carry crude oil from the Moonie oilfield west of Brisbane to the Lytton storage facility located at the mouth of the Brisbane River.