Details of 2023-24 North West gas mains upgrade programme (this press release includes data by local council area)
£80m investment will modernise the underground gas network that heats millions of homes
Helping prepare the region for hydrogen and building a greener energy future
418km of pipes to be upgraded this year and work secured for 600 engineers
Details of the 2023-24 programme to upgrade the North West’s oldest gas mains – some of which were installed over 100 years ago – are published today.
Cadent, which manages the region’s gas network, will modernise around
of its North West pipeline over the next 12 months. This is the same length as 4,000 football pitches, or the same height as more than 2,600 Blackpool Towers.
The £80m investment will be delivered by 600 skilled gas engineers. They will be upgrading vital pipes to plastic to ensure a long-term safe network, as well as remain on track to replace fossil gas with hydrogen. This change is essential to achieve local plans for meeting energy demands in ways that better protect the planet.
As part of its commitment to keeping customers safe and warm, every year Cadent replaces around 1.5 per cent of its 34,000km North West underground distribution system. These are mostly ageing metallic mains nearing the end of their safe operating lives. The work is part of a bigger 30-year engineering programme, which is happening across the UK and is due to finish in 2032.
Getting ready for hydrogen
“More than 80 per cent of homes in the North West rely on gas for central heating and it’s our job to make sure they get it, safely and reliably, every minute of every day of the year,” said Head of Investment Planning Office (North West) Mark Syers, who leads the team delivering Cadent’s gas mains upgrade work in the region.
“As our older stock reaches the end of its safe working life, we must replace it. We’re also excited by the arrival soon of hydrogen to our networks, which is going to be essential to the North West achieving its targets to reduce carbon emissions.
“In most cases we’re able to insert the new pipe into the old one, a technique that reduces the time of each project and means we don’t have to dig as much.
“It also means an end to what often becomes increasingly-frequent visits – with associated disruption – to repair faults on the older metallic mains, as they start to show signs of age. We know it’s not ideal, but my team is determined to move as quickly as they safely can and get the work done with as little disruption as possible.”
Where the work will take place
By distance, the ‘top five’ workload areas for 2023/24 are: Wirral (45,079 metres), Sefton (27,476), Manchester (27,055 metres), Trafford (22,773 metres), and Liverpool (21,478 metres). You will find the figures for each of the North West’s local authority areas in the table below.
Metres of pipe to be upgraded in 2023-24, by local authority area
Blackburn with Darwen
*Halton, Ellesmere Port and Neston, Crewe and Nantwich – details tbc at time of writing
When and how the work will take place
Cadent works with the local highways authorities to agree the best and least disruptive timings to carry out these essential upgrades.
Once start dates have been confirmed, letters are sent to properties impacted ahead of the work starting.
Part of the programme also involves replacing individual ‘service’ pipes of tens of thousands of properties at no extra cost for customers. Cadent makes all the arrangements and gives advance notice of when work will happen.
Gas remains on throughout, although in some cases properties that take a direct feed from the pipe being replaced will lose supply for up to 12 hours, as their building is connected to the new main. Customer teams are available to answer any questions.
Factfile: Cadent in North West England
Cadent operates four of the UK’s eight gas distribution networks – North West England, West Midlands, Eastern England and North London.
Its North West network stretches from the Lake District to Crewe and is home to 34,000km of distribution pipes (most of them underground) and hundreds of above ground installations. If placed end to end, that amount of pipes would stretch from North West England to Sydney, Australia, and back again.
Around £800m will be invested in the North West’s gas network over the next five years. This will maintain safe, secure supplies to homes, hospitals, schools, offices and other sites, as well as support the UK’s targets to reduce carbon emissions.
More than 83 per cent of North West households are heated by gas.
Backed by Cadent and many partners, the North West region is set to lead the way in a major shift from fossil gases to hydrogen. Producing only heat and water at point of use, hydrogen is key to a greener energy future and is set to be introduced at volume in the North West soon.