#OurLockdownStory: keeping a major, multi-million-pound programme to build four new above-ground installations on track through Covid-19 and lockdown


The £11.6m construction of two new facilities to manage the safe flow of gas into thousands of homes around Manchester remains on track to complete this year, project managers confirmed.

Cadent, which manages the North West’s 21,000-mile gas mains network, is building new ‘above-ground installations’ (AGIs) within the grounds of its existing depots in Hollinwood and Rochdale.

These sites receive gas at high pressure and, through a series of on-site processes, reduce that pressure and heat the gas for its safe onward underground journey to customers’ homes.

As the UK went into lockdown, these critical projects were already well-advanced, so the teams quickly adapted to social-distancing and other safety procedures to keep the builds going.

Work undertaken by Cadent and the other energy networks has been classed by UK Government as essential during the coronavirus pandemic, in maintaining a safe supply of gas to homes, hospitals, schools and other buildings – both during lockdown and also into the future.

As well as workers keeping two metres apart, a coronavirus management plan ensures every machine is cleaned after use and there is a weekly disinfection of offices, cabins and stores. Teams also go through an amended induction process as they arrive onto the football pitch-size sites.

Cadent’s Callum Finegan, who is managing both projects, said: “It’s been incredibly rewarding to see the initial concepts come alive on site. These jobs have not been without their challenges – big engineering projects never are – but we’ve responded brilliantly and kept the projects on track.”

The two new facilities are replacing very old existing ones, which are nearing the end of their safe operational lives. They are part of a network which helps Cadent distribute gas to hundreds of thousands of buildings in Manchester, Oldham and Rochdale, and the wider area.

At Hollinwood, the team is building a new AGI on land that previously held a giant metallic gasholder, once a prominent feature of the local skyline before demolition decades ago.

This site has needed extensive work to ensure it is capable of safely holding the new facility, including making 16 wells to remove excess water before building the necessary solid foundations.

Once the new AGI starts operating, due to be around September time, the existing AGI will then be decommissioned.

At Rochdale, the project involves replacing each section of the existing AGI with new, modern equipment in a phased way – in effect, replacing the AGI section-by-section, with the team commissioning each section (bringing them into operation) as they go.

In different ways then, gas supply to local homes continues without interruption.

Cadent has contracted J Murphy & Sons Limited to deliver these two upgrades, as well as two other similar projects in Cadent’s East of England and North London networks. In total, the four builds represent around £20m investment by Cadent.

“This is major investment, and big engineering, to secure a safe and reliable gas supply for generations,” said Callum.

“These facilities help distribute gas to keep thousands of local homes warm.

“They’ll have the latest technology, including noise-reducing elements that will make our operations much quieter for our neighbours.

“It’s also part of a larger commitment to get the gas networks ready to carry ever-greener gases like biomethane and hydrogen – both of which will be crucial to the UK achieving its net zero ambition.”

Cadent is the UK’s biggest gas distribution network.

In the North West, it manages a network of more than 21,000 miles of gas pipes that distribute gas to millions of homes, hospitals, schools, businesses, offices, industrial sites and other facilities. Placed end to end, that amount of pipes would stretch from Manchester to Sydney, Australia, and back again. Cadent also provides the 24/7, 365-day gas emergency service for the region.

Cadent is supporting Greater Manchester Combined Authority, and other local authorities, in finding solutions to decarbonise how we heat our homes, power industry and fuel transport.

It founded the HyNet North West project, now backed by a range of industrial and political supporters. This aims, by the mid-2020s, to capture carbon and distribute hydrogen – a zero-carbon gas at point is use – to heavy industry and more than two million homes in the North West.

How we’ve kept gas flowing, supported the UK Government Covid-19 emergency response, looked after our customers, looked after ourselves, and focussed on our future energy needs – this is #OurLockdownStory. Follow our social media channels and this page of our website www.cadentgas.com/ourlockdownstory for more in this special series showcasing the amazing achievements of Cadent’s #keyworkers


Cadent is the UK’s largest gas distribution network with a 200-year legacy.  We are in a unique position to build on strong foundations whilst encouraging the curiosity to think differently and the courage to embrace change.  Day to day we continue to operate, maintain and innovate the UK’s largest gas network, transporting gas safely and protecting people in an emergency.   Our skilled engineers and specialists remain committed to the communities we serve, working day and night to ensure gas reaches 11 million homes from Cumbria to North London and the Welsh Borders to East Anglia, to keep your energy flowing. 

Future of Gas: Here at Cadent we support the Government’s plans to reach Net Zero by 2050. That means we’re backing the introduction of hydrogen as a low carbon alternative to natural gas for the future. We know people love the controllability of gas and, with our network already in place, it makes sense to switch to the lower carbon alternative offered by hydrogen, which we believe can keep homes and businesses warm for generations to come.

Cadent manages the national gas emergency service free phone line on behalf of the gas industry - 0800 111 999*

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Kevin Hegarty


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