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0113 322 7950

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Stakeholder Relations Team

stakeholder@northerngas.co.uk

Cleaner and greener

We’re working hard to become a cleaner, greener business – reducing waste in our daily operations, and gearing up for a low carbon, sustainable future

Our environment strategy is our roadmap for improvement.

The past year saw encouraging progress against a number of commitments in this strategy. We dramatically improved the amount of spoil we recycle, and beat our regulatory target for the first time.

We also made our vehicle fleet greener by introducing a range of gas powered vehicles and cleaner engines and exceeded our targets for reducing pipe leaks – alleviating the build up of harmful greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

There were no new biomethane connections made in 2017/18, as the industry was waiting for the Government to announce its new renewable heat tariffs. Following the announcement, in May 2018, we are optimistic that we will see a number of new biomethane connections to our network by 2020.

Outputs - a detailed look

This table takes a detailed look at our environmental performance in 2017/18. Simply click the plus arrow to read a brief commentary on what the statistic means, and how we did.

Gas shrinkage Target
2013/14
2014/15
2015/16
2016/17
2017/18
Status
Shrinkage baseline (GWh)
?

Shrinkage is the industry term for gas lost through leaks on our pipes, plus gas lost through theft, and gas used by us for operational purposes. We outperformed our 2017/18 target, by continuing to replace old, leak prone pipes and by effectively managing the pressure of gas passing through the network, to avoid putting unnecessary strain on the pipes. We also used Monothylene Glycol, a ‘wet’ gas used to saturate and swell metallic joints which otherwise might leak gas.

412 GWh
421 GWh (baseline: 459 GWh)
397 GWh (baseline: 445 GWh)
382 GWh (baseline: 433 GWh)
354 GWh (baseline: 423 GWh)
352 GWh (baseline: 412 GWh)
Ahead
Leakage baseline (GWh)
?

The total volume of gas lost through leaks on the pipe network. This figure is a major contributor to the overall ‘shrinkage’ total (see previous statistic). We outperformed our 2017/18 leakage target, by continuing to replace old, leak prone pipes and by effectively managing the pressure of gas passing through the network, to avoid putting unnecessary strain on the pipes.

386 GWh
399 GWh (baseline: 459 GWh)
375 GWh (baseline: 420 GWh)
360 GWh (baseline: 408 GWh)
332 GWh (baseline: 408 GWh)
329 GWh (baseline: 386 GWh)
Ahead
Business carbon footprint
?

Although no specific business carbon footprint target has been set by Ofgem, all gas distributors are expected to make steady progress. 2017/18 also saw us work with our suppliers to recycle more spoil and reduce use of virgin aggregate; implement energy saving measures in our offices and depots and deliver important land decontamination projects to protect local environments. Lots of big improvements!

0
8,722
9,224
8,476
7,999
7,418
N/A
Other emissions and natural resource use Target
2013/14
2014/15
2015/16
2016/17
2017/18
Status
Number of sites where statutory remediation has been carried out
?

In 2017/18, we continued the process of reviewing our sites, to identify any potential issues with land contamination. As a result, we carried out decontamination projects at three sites.

0
-
-
3
3
46
N/A
Use of virgin aggregate
?

In 2017/18, we made good progress in using more recycled aggregate during our streetworks, and diverting more waste from landfill – almost hitting our internal target for the first time.

<17,000 tonnes (internal)
37,862 tonnes
29,426 tonnes
33,520 tonnes
17,140 tonnes
14,321 tonnes
On target
Amount of spoil to landfill
?

Reducing the volume of spoil to landfill has always proved challenging, partly due to high clay content in the spoil created across our network. Over the past year we have been working with our partners to increase the recycling facilities available as well as digging fewer and smaller holes, and by working with our contractors to make work sites even greener. In 2017/18 we exceeded our internal target for the first time.

<13,000 tonnes (internal)
61,555 tonnes
18,565 tonnes
17,311 tonnes
6,232 tonnes
308 tonnes
Ahead
ISO 14001 major non conformities
?

ISO 14001 is a family of standards related to environmental management. It helps companies minimise any adverse environmental impact and comply with relevant laws and regulations.

0
-
-
-
-
-
N/A
Biomethane Target
2013/14
2014/15
2015/16
2016/17
2017/18
2018/19
2019/20
2020/21
Status
Total capacity of biomethane connected
?

NGN are big supporters of biomethane production a clean, sustainable gas formed by the breakdown of organic material, to produce biogas which is then enriched with propane to produce biomethane. Our role is to help biomethane producers connect to our network so they can get their product into our network, and into customers’ homes. In 2015/16, we connected a further eight biomethane plants to our network, making nine in total.

No target
-
-
722,700
7,008
550
-
9,140
-
N/A
Total capacity of biomethane enquiries/applications in progress (MW)
?

Over the past year we have seen further increase in the number of enquiries received from biomethane producers who want to connect to our network. Interest has increased due to growing general awareness of this fuel of the future, Government financial incentives, and our own efforts.

No target
130
326
2,639,300
319,652
18,740
-
-
-
N/A
Information provision and connection charging for distributed gas
?

Getting a biomethane plant connected to the gas network is a complex and demanding process, so provision of clear, timely information about technical requirements and pricing is extremely important. We have a dedicate team providing this service, along with a dedicated website, an introductory brochure and a detailed technical manual, available to all producers.

No target
Met
Met
Met
Met
Met
-
-
-
N/A
Voluntary standards of service: 15 day response to initial enquiry under 7bar
?

Provision of clear, timely information about the technical requirements of connecting to our network, and associated pricing, allows prospective biomethane producers to decide if there project is viable. Our dedicated biomethane team handles enquiries promptly.

100%
100%
98%
87%
100%
100%
-
-
-
On target
Voluntary standard of service: 30 day response to capacity study under 7 bar
?

Provision of clear, timely information about the technical requirements of connecting to our network, and associated pricing, allows prospective biomethane producers to decide if there project is viable. Our dedicated biomethane team handles enquiries promptly.

100%
100%
100%
100%
100%
100%
-
-
-
On target

Case studies

We have a raft of green-themed initiatives underway with plenty more in the pipeline.

Less wasteful work sites

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In 2017/18, we beat our regulatory targets for spoil recycling and use of recycled backfill materials for the first time.

Spoil to landfill and virgin aggregate performance has become a key performance incentive for contractors, and we provided additional training to enhance their performance and data reporting.

We’ve also taken advantage of new, approved recycling facilities in the region – sites that we successfully lobbied for in previous years.

The result? A 99% reduction in spoil to landfill (and a 16% reduction in virgin aggregate use) compared to the previous year.

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Solar powered land clean-up

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Since 2014, we have been remediating our portfolio of former coal gas sites, where there is potential for land contamination.

On a site in Gateshead, we recently used solar powered pumps to remove coal tar from an underground tank – a entirely sustainable solution, which we plan to replicate on future jobs.

To date, we have completed land remediation at 9 sites – returning 3,500m2 of land to a healthy state.

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Volunteering for a cleaner environment

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Over the past year, our colleagues have volunteered 192 hours to help the RSPB at various nature reserves across our network.

NGN’s  Anna Kapeni volunteered at Salthome, Teeside, where cockleshell islands provide nesting sites for colonies of breeding Common Terns.

She said:

“Our task for the day was to strip the island of as much vegetation as possible, leaving only the cockle-shell base. We spent the day working as a team to rid the island of all its greenery, being careful to separate the Hemlock, which is poisonous to the areas’ organisms.

 “I would definitely recommend getting involved. It was a great day!”

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A fleet that’s miles greener

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We are trialling a range of electric and gas vehicles to see how they perform in our demanding operational environment.

We have introduced three Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) vans to our fleet, a hydrogen powered car and are trialling three electric vehicles.

We are also working with Leeds City Council to deliver a compressed natural gas filling station which will power the council’s refuse lorries and has potential to incorporate other fuels, such as hydrogen.

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Energy efficient offices and depots

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A rolling programme to upgrade our offices and depots has been an opportunity to improve our business carbon footprint.

We have introduced energy efficient air conditioning units, boilers, low energy lighting with movement sensors and A rated electrical equipment such as computer screens.

Thanks to the investment, we expect to reduce energy use at our head office alone by more than 20%.

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Getting green gas into the grid

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Mill Nurseries in Saltaugh is the latest biomethane plant to be connected to our network.

The family business grows tomatoes in glasshouses using renewable biomass heat and gas fired generators, producing electricity for the local network with beneficial CO2 capture.

Mill Nurseries brings the total number of biomethane sites connected to our network to 10.

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Digging deep for greener roadworks

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We’ve always struggled to recycle the spoil we dig up during roadworks, and to reduce the amount of virgin material we use to fill the holes back in.

A scarcity of suitable recycling facilities in our region has certainly not helped, but we knew there was more we could be doing.

Over the past 12 months, we launched a competition with the local firms who carry out our mains replacement projects, challenging them to reduce virgin aggregate use in order to win financial rewards. Each firm was provided with a database of suitable recycling centres, and progress reviewed regularly.

We invested in two Core & Vac rigs in July 2016, which reduce the size of the holes we need to dig.

And we even helped one of our engineering partners set up a new aggregate recycling centre in North Yorkshire – an area short of this type of facility.

The result of all this collaborative working? Soil sent to landfill reduced by 60% and the use of virgin aggregate by over a third. Encouraging results, and a good platform to build on.

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Siloxanes: setting the standard

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Siloxanes are silicon-based chemicals that can be found in biomethane. If siloxane levels are too high, household appliances such as boilers can burn inefficiently, presenting a health risk.

There had never been a rigorous, scientific UK-based study into safe siloxane limits, something that needed to be remedied as more and more biomethane projects came online.

To determine a safe siloxane limit, we went to some extraordinary lengths. Several different models of gas boilers and household gas fires were run 24/7 in a warehouse for a year, with different quantities of siloxane put through them.

The result was a new recommended safe limit: 0.23mg of siloxane per cubic meter of gas. We are now sharing the results with the wider industry, in the hope that this will become the new recognised standard.

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Gas holder demolition: supporting the environment, and the community

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Gas holders are relics of the age of town gas, and the structures are no longer needed.

In 2016/17, we demolished 7 of these holders, as part of a rolling programme. The sheer size of the structures, and the possibility of contaminated material, requires an environmentally sensitive approach.

When demolishing the Minton Lane gas holder in North Shields, for example, we removed 10,800m3 of contaminated water, 82 tonnes of oil and 54 tonnes of highly contaminated sludge.

470 tonnes of metal and concrete was shipped offsite for recycling, and to fill the void left by the structure, we used 23,000 tonnes of recycled aggregate from a local supplier.

We also went the extra mile for the local community, by suspending work while students from the nearby school sat their SATs exams.

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Cleaning up a contaminated site

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Our Carcroft gas distribution station in Doncaster is built on the footprint of a former coal gasworks.

The site’s former use had generated significant ground contamination, posing a risk to the surrounding environment, including the local watercourse.

Our environmental and major projects teams worked together to overhaul the site and remove the risks – a task made especially difficult by the small site size and the presence of live, high-pressure gas pipelines.

The project saw us excavate 1,900 m3 of ground, to remove contaminated soil and take away an underground steel tank full of liquid coal tar.

This work has reduced the pollution threat posed by the site to the local environment, delivering lasting benefits.

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Getting our hands dirty with Yorkshire and Durham Wildlife Trust

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We’ve teamed up with the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust (YWT) and Durham Wildlife Trust (DWT) to help them with vitally important conservation work in our region. The Yorkshire and Durham based charities help to protect wild places and wildlife for current and future generations to enjoy.

As corporate members of the trust we are running a programme of volunteer days, asking our colleagues to get their hands dirty by helping out! Maintenance tasks range from fence building to weed pulling and come rain or shine we’ll have a band of willing volunteers equipped to help.

We’ve given the YWT and DWT around 400 hours of hands on help over the year to contribute to their ongoing conservation projects, a valuable contribution to our local community and the environment; upholding the core values of our community promises.

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