MORE than 2,000 metres of gas mains are due to be replaced in Ellesmere Port and Neston during 3021/22.

Details of a programme to upgrade the North West’s oldest gas mains, some of which were installed over 100 years ago, has been published, as the region’s gas network gets ready to begin its 2021/22 programme.

Every year, Cadent replaces about 300 to 350 miles of its 21,000-mile North West underground pipe distribution system. These are mostly ageing metallic mains nearing the natural end of their safe operating lives.

Upgrading to plastic ensures a long-term safe network and helps get it ready for the introduction of greener gases like hydrogen and biomethane, which are both essential to the UK achieving net zero carbon emissions.

The programme confirmed for April 2021 to March 2022 includes 485,178 metres of gas mains in the North West region [see table below for a breakdown by local authority area].

This is the same length as more than 4,600 football pitches, or the same height at more than 3,000 Blackpool Towers. It is almost double the distance, as the crow flies, from the middle of Manchester to central London.

And it represents at least £50m investment in the North West gas network, with more than 600 engineers employed to deliver the work.

Cadent has been working with the highways authorities to agree the best and least disruptive timings to carry out these essential upgrade.

Details have also been shared with local councils and other groups.

Letters are sent to properties in the vicinity of the work areas in the weeks leading up to start dates.

The programme will factor in, and seek to avoid clashing with, any major events that may take place once Covid19 restrictions are lifted.

“More than 80 per cent of homes in the North West rely on gas for central heating and it’s our job to make sure they get it, safely and reliably, every minute of every day of the year,” said Craig Horrocks, who heads Cadent’s gas mains upgrade work in the region.

“We’re also excited by the arrival soon of hydrogen to our networks, a zero-carbon gas at point of use, as well as low-carbon biomethane, a gas made from waste.

“Both are essential to the UK reaching its goal to have net zero carbon emissions.

“As our older stock reaches the end of its safe working life, we must replace it.

“In most cases we’re able to insert the new pipe into the old one, a technique that reduces the time of each project and means we don’t have to dig as many excavations.

“It also means an end to what often becomes increasingly-frequent visits – with associated disruption – to repair faults on the older metallic mains, as they start to show signs of age.

“We know it’s not ideal, but my team is determined to move as quickly as they safely can and get the work done with as little disruption as possible.”

Metres of pipe to be upgraded, by local authority area

Barrow in Furness 8,328

Blackburn with Darwen 11,062

Bolton 24,016

Burnley 12,365

Bury 20,569

Chorley 10,171

Ellesmere Port and Neston 2,431

Fylde 14,347

Halton 14,579

High Peak 11,853

Hyndburn 3,623

Knowsley 10,591

Lancaster 4,856

Liverpool 20,315

Macclesfield 6,450

Manchester 40,052

Oldham 13,092

Pendle 4,153

Preston 12,889

Ribble Valley 1,714

Rochdale 19,044

Rossendale 2,005

Salford 11,508

Sefton 39,331

South Lakeland 5,063

South Ribble 12,045

St Helens 12,319

Stockport 16,593

Tameside 7,674

Trafford 23,656

Warrington 17,722

West Lancashire 1,337

Wigan 12,784

Wirral 47,658

Wyre 8,986

TOTAL 485,178