Keeping energy flowing: the £11m investment that’s helped ensure people stay warm in their homes now and for years to come

Date published: 10 May 2021

More than £11m has been invested to upgrade two energy sites in Oldham and Rochdale which help keep many thousands of people warm in their homes.

Successful completion is down to the determination of a team of engineers who refused to let a global pandemic, terrible ground conditions nor a host of other challenges knock them off track as they rebuilt the large ‘above ground installations’ (AGI) on the local gas network.

Even more remarkable is that work to rebuild Cadent’s sites – which, among other things, heat gas and reduce pressures to levels safe for onward distribution into homes – went largely unnoticed.

Both projects took place in the grounds of the existing gas yards on Mersey Road North in Hollinwood and off Dane Street in Rochdale.

And gas remained ON throughout – so homes, hospitals, schools, offices, industry and other buildings did not experience any interruption to their supply.

“What we’ve achieved here are the first full AGI rebuilds in many years, built at the same time,” said Callum Finegan, project engineer at Cadent, who managed the delivery of these rebuilds.

“We started work before anyone had ever heard of Covid-19 and, despite the challenges that presented, we adapted to new ways of working to keep the projects on track.

“It’s been amazing to deliver these two new sites and ensure gas is safely and reliably distributed for many years to come.

"With the introduction of hydrogen to our network now only a few years away, our gas network will have a major role in helping the UK achieve net zero.”

The new AGIs at Rochdale and Hollinwood now have the most modern pressure reducing systems, boiler houses, filter streams and heat exchangers, as well as instrument buildings that enable the sites to be monitored remotely, 24/7.

At Hollinwood, the new AGI occupies a new footprint on the site – land that once held a huge gasholder that dominated the local skyline.

That was demolished decades ago, but it left behind an unhelpful legacy: sludge-like, heavily-contaminated, waterlogged ground.

This all had to be removed, carefully, and disposed of in an environmentally-friendly way.

Sixteen wells had to be sunk to remove excess water before the solid foundations could be built.

Now the AGI sits higher than its predecessor, providing much better protection from floods.

Cadent contracted J Murphy & Sons Ltd to deliver these two upgrades, as well as two other similar projects in Cadent’s Eastern and North London networks.

In total, the four builds represent more than £20m investment by Cadent.

“It’s major investment, and big engineering, to secure a safe and reliable gas supply for generations,” added Mr Finegan.

“What I’m incredibly proud of is that the team was so agile – responding to many challenges thrown at us – and that we did all this with not one single lost-time injury.

"It’s been a big team effort and credit is due to every individual who’s worked on the projects.”

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