Work to ‘retire’ and replace an underground gas main that’s helped heat homes in Oldham for over 100 years is due to start next week (5 October).
Cadent, which manages the 21,000-mile gas network in North West England, has commissioned work on the main under Huddersfield Road (A62).
This pipe is large – at 16 inches in diameter – and helps to heat thousands of local homes.
Hidden from view, as it runs under the road surface between Stephenson Street and Cypress Road, it’s the equivalent length of three Olympic-size swimming pools (150 metres).
It’s also among the oldest of pipes in the local area – thought to date to before the First World War – and now showing signs of reaching the end of its safe operating life.
A new durable, plastic pipe is going to be installed in its place. This will have a lifespan of at least 80 years, as Cadent gets the local network ready for a long future.
More than 85 per cent of Oldham’s 89,000 homes use gas for central heating, as well as schools, hospitals, offices and other buildings.
The gas network is set to play a big part in the push to achieve net zero carbon emissions, with gases such as zero-carbon hydrogen likely to be part of the future local energy mix.
Details of the scheme
Engineers will start work on this scheme on 5 October, with a plan to be off-site no later than 4 November. The gas main runs directly under the road surface, so traffic lights will control the flow of vehicles around the work area (which is in the Oldham-bound lane).
Gas stays ON to local homes, except for 23 properties which take a direct feed off this pipe. These customers know that they will be back on gas the same day they go off and advance notice will be given. There should be no interruption to gas supply other than this.
Craig Horrocks, who heads Cadent’s gas mains upgrade programme in North West England, said: “This is one of our older pipes, a workhorse of the network – but it’s now reached the end of its operating life and must be replaced to keep everything safe.
“We’re carrying out a 30-year programme of works to upgrade our older pipes like these – at the rate of around 300 miles every year in the North West. This needs careful planning and close working with local authorities to agree the best time to go in.
“These projects take time to organise – there has been months of planning behind the scenes, and liaising with Oldham Council, to agree the best way to complete the work.
“We know it’s not ideal to sit in traffic lights and we appreciate everyone’s patience as we get this work done. With a lifespan of more than 80 years, having the new pipe in place reduces the likelihood of us needing to carry out repairs, which is just as disruptive.”
Customer teams have been speaking and writing to residents and local businesses to explain the project. Advance warning signs have been placed on the approach to the work area.
Cadent in the North West
Cadent manages 21,000 miles of gas mains and hundreds of above ground stations that distribute gas to more than 2.7 million homes across North West England. If placed end to end, that amount of pipes would run from Oldham all the way to Sydney, and back again.
Every year, it upgrades more than 300 miles of pipes in the North West, as they reach the end of their safe working lives.
This huge, mostly unseen network carries gas that help heat around 83 per cent of all UK homes (85% in Oldham), as well as supplying schools, offices, businesses, industry, and fuelling HGVs.
Gas has been a feature of the UK energy system for over 200 years, with a long future ahead.
Plans are advanced to introduce green gases like hydrogen to the gas network in North West England soon, playing a big role in the UK journey to net zero. Unlike fossil gas (the gas used today, which is mostly methane), there are no carbon emissions from hydrogen at point of use – just heat and water.