Work to begin on Falkirk’s ‘Off Gas Villages’ mains extension

Work to begin on Falkirk's ‘Off Gas Villages’ mains extension

A major project is set to get underway shortly which will provide around 700 council homes with the option to connect to the gas network for the first time.

Falkirk Council commissioned SGN, who operates the gas network in Scotland, to design and install an extension to the gas network to provide a direct supply to the villages of Whitecross, Letham, California, Avonbridge and Slamannan. The new pipes being laid will be modern plastic polyethylene (PE) pipe with a lifespan of over 80 years, ensuring a safe and reliable gas supply. The proposed design and installation will be ‘hydrogen ready’ as and when this is available via the SGN network.

All local authority owned properties in the five villages will be connected to the SGN gas network, while residents who privately own their properties will also have the option to apply and pay for a gas mains connection direct to SGN.

The significant infrastructure project will get underway in October 2023 and will take until April 2025 to complete with a connection to the gas network available between April 2024 and April 2025. Full details of the indicative timescales for each village can be found on SGNs dedicated webpage.

SGN held drop-in sessions for local residents in each of the villages at the beginning of October to provide information and answer any questions about the project.

Council leader Cecil Meiklejohn, said: “The extension to the gas network marks a significant step forward to providing our tenants living in off gas villages with a more affordable energy option which could be in some homes as early as Summer 2024.

“It’s especially important right now when we are living through a cost-of-living crisis combined with high energy prices.

“We’re glad that this project is now moving forward with work due to start imminently to make this a reality.”

Once the gas infrastructure is in place within each village, Falkirk Council will start a programme to install gas heating where tenants have indicated this is their preferred heating option.

In 2022 all 720 tenants living in the off-gas villages were asked to complete a survey on their preferred heating option which included choosing gas or Air Source Heat Pumps (ASHP). The ASHP solution includes solar PVs with battery storage and a further survey was carried out in August 2023. There is currently a programme underway to install the alternative heating solution in 100 homes with a further phase of the ASHP option starting in 2024/25.

“Our heating replacement programme is all about giving our tenants options so they can choose the solution which suits them best,” added Councillor Meiklejohn.

SGN has a dedicated webpage with detailed information on the gas extension project.

The UK gas distribution networks are working with the UK and Scottish Governments to build an evidence base for the potential use of hydrogen gas to decarbonise heating. In Fife, SGN’s H100 Fife trial is an important part of the evidence base and will supply 300 homes with green hydrogen.

As part of the design SGN have ensured that the gas mains pipe used in this project will be suitable for transporting hydrogen in the future.

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