Lancashire: complex repair completed of gas leak deep under main road

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  • Double gas leak found deep under the main road into and out of Bacup
  • Circumstances described as a ‘once in every three years’ challenge
  • Cadent sorry for inconvenience and thanks motorists and residents for their patience
A complicated operation to locate and fix a leak on a metal gas pipe buried deep under a busy Lancashire road has been completed.
Engineers responded several weeks ago to a routine report of a smell of gas, one of more than a million such calls reported to the national gas emergency service every year.
But the source turned out to be far from routine. It was eventually found 30 metres from the house where the gas smell had first been reported from.
The ‘leak’ was actually two small leaks on the same joint of a 20-inch metal low pressure gas main, buried 2.3 metres under Newchurch Road, the main road into and out of Bacup.
It was also at exactly the point where a newer, plastic 20-inch medium pressure pipe crosses over the top of the older metal one, making access to make the repair a challenge.
The depth on the pipe meant extra precautions – such as shoring up the walls of the trench – had to be taken to ensure the safety of the repair teams working below the ground.
Although the leaks were very small, and not a safety risk, they had to be fixed. A specialist company was brought in by Cadent – the local gas network, formerly called National Grid Gas Distribution – to make bespoke steel parts to encapsulate and stop the two leaks.
The parts were fitted on Friday, with the deep hole then filled in and the road resurfaced over the weekend. This enabled the lifting of temporary traffic lights which had controlled the flow of traffic for four weeks.
Gas supplies to homes and businesses in the area were not affected at any time and teams remained on site every day, while the steel parts were made, to ensure there was no risk to safety.
Mike McNamara, Cadent supervisor for the area, said: “This is a low pressure pipe distributing gas to homes and businesses in the local area, for heating and cooking. It is normally 100% reliable.
“In this case, there were two very small leaks on a joint. They were tiny escapes, which did not compromise safety, but we did need to fix them. This was a really complex repair, first to find the source of the leak and then to fix it. We do get these sorts of complex jobs every now and then - I'd say about once every three years. We know it's been an inconvenience to motorists and people who live in the area. I can only apologise for that and thank everyone for their patience.”
Cadent is responsible for ensuring gas reaches almost 11million homes and businesses in the UK – including 2.7million in the North West. The company maintains, repairs and upgrades a network of 131,000km of pipes from Cumbria to North London and the East of England to the Welsh borders.
  • If anyone smells gas, it is important they report it immediately to the national gas emergency line 0800 111 999 (calls to this number are recorded and may be monitored).


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.

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Kevin Hegarty

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