DETAILS of a programme to upgrade hundreds of thousands of metres of gas mains across the North West have been published today (Wednesday, May 1).

Cadent, which manages the region’s gas network, will modernise around 420,000 metres of its North West pipeline over the next 12 months. More than 15,000 metres of pipeline is set to be upgraded in Cheshire West.

The full project would be the equivalent straight-line distance as journey from Liverpool to Aberdeen.

The £80m investment will be delivery by 600 gas engineers.

Cadent say they will be upgrading vital pipes to plastic to ensure a long-term safe network, as well as remain on track to replace fossil gas with greener alternatives, such as biomethane and hydrogen.

The company add that the change is essential to achieve local plans for meeting energy demands in ways that better protect the planet.

Every year Cadent replaces around 1.5 per cent of its 34,000km North West underground distribution system. These are mostly ageing metallic mains nearing the end of their safe operating lives.

The work is part of a bigger 30-year engineering programme, which is happening across the UK and is due to finish in 2032.

“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 Head of Investment Planning Office (North West) Mark Syers, who leads the team delivery Cadent’s gas mains upgrade work in the region.

“As our older stock reaches the end of its safe working life, we must replace it. We’re also excited by the arrival soon of hydrogen to our networks, which is going to be essential to the North West achieving its targets to reduce carbon emissions.

“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 much.

“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.”

By distance, the ‘top five’ workload areas for 2024-25 are: Wirral (45,793 metres), Manchester (24,697), Liverpool (24,287 metres), Sefton (21,656 metres), and Wigan (20,368 metres). Cheshire West and Chester – including the Ellesmere Port and Neston area and Vale Royal - will see 15,118 metres of pipe upgraded.

Start dates for the work have not yet been confirmed, with impacted properties due to receive letters ahead of time.

Part of the programme also involves replacing individual ‘service’ pipes of tens of thousands of properties. Cadent say they will make all the arrangements and give advance notice of when work will happen.

Gas remains on throughout, although in some cases properties that take a direct feed from the pipe being replaced will lose supply for up to 12 hours, as their building is connected to the new main.