In its long history London has undergone many challenges from the Great Plague and Great Fire of London in the 17th century to air raids in two world wars and terrorist attacks in more recent times.
However, the 2020 coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdown has perhaps been unlike anything our capital and nation has faced with whole economic sectors closed down for months and visitor and commuter numbers plummeting.
As London slowly emerges from Lockdown it’s an apt time to reflect on the role that Cadent, Britain’s largest gas distribution network, is playing in spearheading the recovery in the capital and beyond.
The Government recognised energy networks like Cadent as critical industries who needed to keep operating throughout the COVID-19 outbreak and lockdown. Work we were able to continue and in some cases bring forward during lockdown should assist London as it begins the journey to economic recovery.
Other than following Government social distancing guidelines and using additional safety equipment, our 24-7 gas emergency service continued to operate as usual throughout the pandemic. However, to minimise social contact, we shifted all our planned work to focus on non-customer facing work involving essential gas mains replacement work.
This work, which involves digging excavations in usually very busy roads and footpaths, can despite the best planning and technology, be disruptive. We redesigned the programme – which involves around 120 teams – to focus on work in locations which normally would be much busier. This was challenging to say the least but with sterling efforts from our teams and the support of Highways Authorities and TfL (Transport for London), we managed to repurpose our programme.
Working in these usually very busy locations, with vastly reduced levels of traffic and footfall, we will doubtless have spared many London businesses the costly disruption which they would have experienced had the work been done during normal times.
The new pipes should last into the 22nd century delivering safe and reliable gas supplies to Londoners and reducing future disruption caused by leaks from old pipes and the knock on negative effect that can have on businesses. Annually we invest over £160m in upgrading our network helping to ensure the capital continues to enjoy world class infrastructure and that it is ready and able to do business with the world.
We are a major employer in the region offering exciting employment opportunities for apprentices and graduates as well as experienced professionals. London businesses including the hospitality and retail sectors also benefit from the patronage of our staff. Our service provides excellent value for money representing a cost of around 33p a day on people’s gas bills.
As both the capital and the nation get back on their feet after one of the biggest challenges of this century, people can rest assured that Cadent is helping to pave the way for a prosperous future in London and beyond.