The National Energy Board (NEB) has now released its proposed answer to the question asked by any pipeline landowner familiar with the requirements of the National Energy Board Act: when may I cross the pipeline with my farm equipment? At present, the NEB Act provides that no one may cross a pipeline with a vehicle or mobile equipment (which covers off just about any agricultural activity) without the permission of the pipeline company. Now, with the new "guidance" in place, permission must only be sought from the company in specified circumstances. An exemption order issued by the NEB means that crossings in "low-risk conditions" do not require any further company permission.
Does the NEB's answer satisfy the landowner concerns that have been expressed about the permission requirement? Probably not. For instance, permission from the pipeline company will still be required in the following circumstance:
Any use of heavy agricultural vehicles or mobile equipment that may not be able to safely cross the pipeline, especially pipelines with reduced depth of cover or other factors increasing the risk of crossing as identified by the pipeline operator."Heavy" equipment or vehicles are described in the NEB guidance document to include "large harvesters" or "large grain transporters". As with the previous situation, the onus is left on the landowner to decide whether his or her equipment is "large".
Also, pipeline depth of cover is a factor in determining whether permission is required. However, pipeline companies are not required by the NEB to provide depth of cover information to landowners as of right. In fact, it is likely that most pipeline companies are not aware of the depth of cover over top of their pipelines. Again, the onus is on the landowner to find out what depth of cover is over the pipelines on their lands. What happens if there is insufficient depth of cover to allow for ongoing farming practices? The NEB guidance document provides no answers.
Read the full document at: Guidance for Safe Crossings of NEB-Regulated Pipelines Using Agricultural Vehicles and Mobile Equipment.