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Licensed pipelines

What are licensed pipelines?

Licensed Pipelines are pipelines regulated under the Pipelines Act 2005. The Pipelines Act 2005 covers ‘transmission’ pipelines that have a maximum design pressure exceeding 1050 kPa (gaseous hydrocarbons) and 345 kPa (liquid hydrocarbons) for the conveyance of gas, oil and other substances.

Where are licensed pipelines located?

There are over 5400km of licensed pipelines throughout Victoria. Most pipelines are located within easements, but not always. Some are within road reserves or co-located with other infrastructure, such as train line corridors.

The Australian Pipeline & Gas Association maintains an online database accessible to Government Agencies and Councils, known as the Australian Pipeline Database (APD). The APD identifies the location of pipelines and contact details for the relevant pipeline operators.

All licensed pipelines in Victoria are also on Dial Before You Dig (DBYD). Anybody thinking of developing land is encouraged to check DBYD early in the design process and review property title instruments to determine if a licensed pipeline is on, or near, the site.

How are licensed pipelines owned, operated and regulated?

Pipelines are owned by private enterprises and operated under a license issued under the Pipelines Act 2005 by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP). DELWP and ESV are the responsible entities for administering on-shore licensed pipelines and co-regulate pipeline licensees.

Victoria has never suffered a large-scale pipeline incident, but there have been many smaller scale incidents, some with more serious consequences or potential consequences. Third party interference with pipelines remains one of the biggest threats to pipeline safety and has the potential to cause highly serious incidents.

The Pipelines Act 2005 requires Licensed Pipelines constructed and operated in accordance with Australian Standard 2885: Pipelines—Gas and liquid petroleum. The standard requires Pipeline Licensees to implement a range of safety measures to reduce foreseeable risks associated with operating a licensed pipeline. This includes understanding how land is being used when pipelines are first constructed and where land is planned to be redeveloped, for operational pipelines.

More information on pipeline regulation can be found at DELWP.

Licensed Pipelines and the Victorian Planning System

Clause 19 of the Planning Policy Framework encourages local Council Planning Schemes to ‘recognise existing transmission-pressure gas pipelines in planning schemes and protect from further encroachment by residential development or other sensitive land uses, unless suitable additional protection of pipelines is provided’.

This policy envisages identifying potential conflicts between development and licensed pipelines early in a project lifecycle where planning and design, rather than expensive engineering solutions, can be used to resolve potential issues.

Most Victorian Planning Schemes do not identify the location of licensed pipelines, and there are insufficient systems in place to ensure pipeline related issues are addressed at the planning stage of a development.

The way the planning system responds to licensed pipelines was reviewed by the Major Hazards Facility Advisory Committee in 2016 and the Review of Victoria’s Electricity and Gas Network Safety Framework in 2017. Both independent reviews acknowledged a need for a stronger and more consistent approach to land use planning controls around licensed pipelines.

More information is available at Victorian Planning System.

ESV is working closely with industry and government stakeholders to advocate for a more comprehensive approach to how pipelines are addressed by the Victorian Planning System.

Education and Awareness

ESV is currently undertaking an education and awareness program aimed at Council planning departments. As Councils are responsible for both directing urban growth and assessing planning permit applications, it is important that there is general awareness of the issues that require consideration when contemplating development around pipelines. This can help resolve potential issues at an early stage of a project and ensure the safety of the community and the integrity of the pipeline network is maintained.

The program comprises a number of components, including:

  • Surveying all Victorian Councils in October/November 2018 to understand the current level of pipeline awareness amongst Council planning staff. View and download summary of the survey results.
  • Presenting to Council planning staff across Victoria to provide an overview of how land use planning and licensed pipelines interact. Download a copy of the presentation provided to Councils.
  • Presenting at the Municipal Association of Victoria Rural and Regional Conference in May 2019 on the pipeline awareness program.
  • Regularly engaging with Pipeline Licensees and State Government Authorities to advocate for more comprehensive planning controls to be embedded into the Victorian Planning System.

This program is ongoing and updates will be provided on this page over the coming months.

Gas and Pipeline Infrastructure Management Policy and Guidelines

In addition to the regulations, ESV has published two key documents which support the application of the safety management regime.