Villagers fuming as Esso workers accidentally cut off water supply
People from Lightwater have been left fuming after oil pipeline works in the village created traffic jams, damaged trees and caused homes to be cut off from their water supply. People living near the works on both Turf Hill and Red Road are furious with the “chaos” caused by the new pipeline which is being undertaken by American oil and gas company ExxonMobil. Complaints have grown so strong in the town that Surrey Heath MP Michael Gove paid a visit to the site to see the damaged trees caused by the works, which have also led to complaints over the level of traffic.
In response to residents, ExxonMobil apologised but said the work needed to be done to replace a pipeline which had been in place since 1972. One of those unhappy about the issues caused was Tim Brooks, who lives close to where the pipeline works are taking place. He said the past few weeks had led to a constant barrage of noise entering his home and said he along with other residents were left without water for an entire evening.
READ MORE: Two people taken to hospital with serious injuries following crash He said: “It’s disappointing to us that they didn’t think about this beforehand. They had a number of options at Turf Hill but they chose the one with the maximum inconvenience to all the people with houses along the route.
We’ve got a construction site at the end of our gardens and machinery running up and down all day long so it’s not been much fun. “Obviously cutting off the water main was quite an inconvenience to Lightwater and shouldn’t have happened because they were told about it, by us. There’s trees along the route that have been knocked quite badly by machines and after I complained they wrapped it up.
It was closing the stable door after the horse had bolted.”
The work in Lightwater is due to continue until the end of the year (Image: Tim Brooks)
He added: “It’s complete and utter arrogance. All of Lightwater thinks they treat us with contempt, which they do. They just don’t seem to care about any public perceptions; what they’re doing is never going to be easy or go down well but they could at least try and treat people with some sort of courtesy.”
Councillor Sharon Galliford, who represents Lightwater at Surrey Heath Borough Council for The Green Party, was well aware of the complaints residents had. She said there was also concern about how the works would affect access for fire vehicles who have been called to several wildfires in recent weeks. “Esso (the trading name for ExxonMobil) have come back saying they’re being compliant with the regulations, those regulations aren’t stringent enough,” said Cllr Galliford, “It’s a shame more robust negotiation wasn’t done when Esso first started applying but with it being a national infrastructure project they just give the green light.”
Responding to the complaints, Tim Sunderland, project executive at ExxonMobil, apologised for the inconvenience caused by the works which are due to be complete at Turf Hill in September and Red Road by the end of the year. However, he stressed the work was crucial and needed to be complete. He said; “The project is replacing an existing aviation fuel pipeline that has been in place since 1972.
It currently carries the equivalent of 100 road tankers of fuel every day. Without the replacement pipeline, the fuel would need to be transported by truck on local roads. “We are committed to reinstating the land on a like-for-like basis along the length of our works, in compliance with our planning permission and the Highway Permit Scheme.
The work has also been inspected by the local council’s tree specialist and the highways authority.” He added: “I would like to apologise to any local residents who were affected by a recent water outage. The area in question is highly congested with existing utilities and tree roots, which we need to work around.
This creates challenging conditions and in this instance we accidentally damaged the water main during excavation and we are investigating what happened. We worked with the water company to restore supplies as soon as possible.” READ NEXT
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