Problems as the 'Gas
Mains Replacement Programme' hits the Formby area
THE 'Gas Mains Replacement Programme'
in the UK has been slowly replacing metal gas pipes, which are currently
reaching the end of their useful life, after been in the ground for decades. Gas
needs to travel through the high pressure transmission system, then through the
medium and low pressure distribution networks to reach the consumer. This has
resulted in a complex delivery system of pipes, if damage, can and often does
result in major disruption to services. Also the consequences of damage to
pipelines can be catastrophic, resulting in damage to buildings, severe injury
or even, in extreme cases, death. As the age of these pips get higher, so does
The UK's Gas distribution Networks (GDNs) have been, for some years, they have
been working hard to replace this aging network of cast iron and ductile mains,
especially those within 30 metres of buildings. In our area, we fall under the
National Grid, who has more than 81399 miles of Gas Distribution Pipes, which we
are told servers over 11 million homes and businesses in its networks and
growing. Sadly this need to replace the network does come with associated
problems. With so many homes and businesses being affected, it National Grid
uses various ways to keep customers informed of the work. This should explain
why it is being carrying out, when and where. It is often done via:- letters,
leaflet distribution, drop in sessions within local communities, as well as
using the local media, social media, Twitter and other forms of warnings,
including signs that carry quick response codes for some projects.
As this work is nearing the penultimate stage
in the work within Merseyside, Formby is now one of the areas seeing roads and
pavements' being dug up, as the delivery process of this new pip network takes
place within the area. Sadly this advanced warning about the work and the
disruption it brings has not quite filtered through to all house holds, within
the areas being worked on. This has lead to some local residents complaining.
1 local resident, Andy Johnson, said:- "I have no problem with the work
being carried out, it is the fact I had no notification about it. I was told on
the day and it left me no access to my drive. I carry expensive and heavy items
to and from my workshop, which needs to be taken via my drive. For a few days I
could not use it. This upset me as it affected my business. Where do I park my
cars? What was more shocking was the fact the barriers where left in a dangerous
manor. It has meant the road is both dangerous for disabled people and other
vulnerable groups such as elderly people, children and those with push chairs.
It was also dangerous not only for pedestrians, but also other road users, with
hidden obstacles both sides of the road and barriers not properly erected."
These questions where supported by other locals, but they did not want to be
named or identified. All of them appreciated that the work had to be done, but
all felt that it was not being handled in the correct way.
We contacted the contractor, a North West based firm, from Wigan, who have been
subcontracted by the main contractor. The subcontractor's Managing Director told
us that they only do the work laying the pipes and that both the traffic
management and the letters are done by other contactors. He also apologised as
he had not been aware of the issues and went as soon as he was told, in person,
to see for himself. He also spoke to Mr Johnson in person.
After the meeting Mr Johnson told us that:-
"I was extremely pleased by his professionalism and the fact he came to see me
and the road! Both him and his workers are fantastic. I have no issues with them
and yes this issue I have raised is a small issue, but it has major impact on
people's lives. He understands this and agrees to what I have said. As a result
he has made notes to help them try to prevent issues in future and will pass
them on to the relevant people up the chain. He also helped us to sort out the
access issues we had. We would like to thank him for his efforts. But we feel
sorry he was the one who faced the questions. The fact is, it is the National
Grid should have done better research to prevent issues like this happening. We
only got a letter this week from them saying that work is due to take place, as
the work was taking place! Oddly the roads on the signs and on my letter all
have different dates on, plus the roads written on them are wrong! This was a
confusing mess and I suggest residents in Formby, and the rest of the UK, take
note! No access also means no access to your drive or pathway, so if you get a
letter make a note to call the National Grid to check when the work is taking
place. It might not be the time or dates stated! If you do not check, you could
find your car stranded, or if disabled, you could also have other issues! As for
the barriers, cones, signing, lighting and guarding are not his or his firms
responsibility. But he also noted the issues we raised about them as well."
We have opted not to say who the firm is, as it was clear that they did their
best to help and it was not the firms fault. We would also like to than them for
keeping us informed.
We think the issue was partly coursed by confusion between:- "Altcar Road"
who are due to have work carried out later in December and the road affected:-
"Altcar Lane." Both of them in Formby and connected to each other.
We know that this work will be moving through out Formby, so as Mr Johnson
says:- "take note" of the issues that have affected residents in
Also if you have any issues connected to this topic, please let us know via
emailing us to:-
News24@SouthportReporter.com. We will do our
best to get the information for you, so you can sort it out.
Did you know that there are only 8 GDN's, throughout the British Isles which are
owned by:- National Grid, Northern Gas Networks, SGN and Wales and West
Utilities? Did you know that all 8 fall under the Energy Networks Association (ENA)
who represents the 'wires and pipes' transmission and distribution
network operators for gas and electricity in the UK and Ireland?
For information on safety requirements on street and road works, we have got a
copy of the "Code of Practice" for you to read. It that was issued
in October 2013, with the current rules and regulations on it. To read the pdf,
please click on
here or visit the Government
website to get a copy.