THOUSANDS of metres of gas mains in the North West are to be upgraded.

Cadent, which manages the region’s gas network, will modernise around 420,000 metres of pipeline over the next 12 months, some of which were installed over 100 years ago.

This includes 2,820 metres in Cheshire West and Chester and 830 metres in Cheshire East.

A team of 600 gas engineers will deliver the £80 million investment, which will help keep Cadent on track as it looks to replace fossil gas with greener alternatives such as biomethane and hydrogen.

Mark Syers, head of Cadent’s investment planning office in the North West, said: “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.

“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.”

Cadent will work with local highways authorities to find the best and least disruptive times to carry out these upgrades.

Once start dates have been confirmed, letters will be sent out to properties impacted.

Part of this programme also involves replacing individual ‘service’ pipes of tens of thousands of properties.

Cadent will make arrangements and give advance notice of when such work will happen.

While gas will remain on throughout, some properties that take a direct feed from the pipe being replaced could lose supply for up to 12 hours.

Mr Syers added: “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.”

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.

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