Major engineering work starts Monday (15 Nov) to upgrade a 900-metre section of pipe that has delivered gas to heat thousands of homes for more than 60 years.
Teams from Cadent, which manages the West Midlands’ 15,000-mile underground gas distribution network, will be working in Lady Byron Lane, Knowle, Solihull.
Operational since the year England won the football World Cup (1966), the ageing pipes are reaching the end of their safe operating lives and need replacing.
Upgrading to tough plastic pipes also has the benefit of helping get the network ready for the introduction of low-carbon gases such as hydrogen, a move widely seen as essential to local and national targets to achieve ‘net zero’.
With such extensive works in the carriageway, Lady Byron Lane will be closed for the duration of work (until early 2022), although access will be maintained for residents.
A diversion via Tilehouse Lane, Longdon Road and Warwick Road will be signposted for traffic that may otherwise have used Lady Byron Lane.
All residents of Lady Byron Lane have been informed of the work, through letters and conversations with Cadent customer teams.
There should be no interruption to supply, other than to the 48 properties which take a direct feed off this pipe. They will lose supply for a short while as they are connected on to the new pipe (back on gas the same day they go off).
This is part of a £288million, five-year investment programme by Cadent to upgrade older gas mains in the West Midlands’ network. These pipes safely, reliably and out-of-sight (underground) distribute gas that keeps people warm in their homes. More than 85 per cent of households in Solihull have gas central heating.
Mark Briggs, Head of Investment – West Midlands, Cadent, said: “This is essential work, to ensure we can meet the 24/7, year-round demand for gas to heat homes and other buildings, as well as for hot water and cooking.
“Our absolute priority with jobs like these is to get the work completed safely. We can only ensure that here by closing the road to through traffic, although we are able to maintain safe access for residents only. We appreciate everyone’s understanding and patience as we upgrade this ageing section of pipe.”
If you smell gas
If you smell gas during this work, nearby or anywhere, always ring the national gas emergency service immediately, day or night, on 0800 111 999*. Do not delay, or assume it’s related to this work. It may not be and must be checked.
Cadent in the West Midlands
Cadent operates four of the UK’s eight gas distribution networks: North West, West Midlands, Eastern and North London. Its West Midlands network covers a wide area from North Staffordshire to Herefordshire, reaching the M1 in the East and the Welsh borders on the West.
Hundreds of engineers and support teams ensure 24/7, year-round management of an underground piped gas distribution network which, if placed end to end, stretches to more than 15,000 miles. That’s almost 4.5 times the distance from Solihull to New York.
Cadent also provides the region’s gas emergency service, with operatives ready to respond quickly, day and night, to reported gas escapes or carbon monoxide incidents, or to support the blue-light emergency services dealing with incidents where gas is present (e.g. house fires).
This West Midlands Network is playing a huge role in helping to switch the gas grid away from fossil fuels, with Cadent, Keele University and other partners recently completing a UK-first trial of blending hydrogen into the existing gas pipe network. Using hydrogen in this blended way is a key step to converting the UK-wide system – essential to achieving net zero carbon emissions.