Inside the Penrith Resilience Project - by Andrew Thompson, Land Agent
As part of the company’s framework with Northern Gas Network (NGN), Bell Ingram is assisting in the delivery of the Penrith Resilience Project.
The programme of works will see the installation of a new 10km 315mm HDPE (high-density-polythene) cross country intermediate pressure gas main, along with a new governor and pressure regulator, and a 1.5km section of medium pressure gas main.
Ambleside-based Land Agent Andrew Thompson explores the challenges of determining the pipeline’s route through a unique landscape rich with historic, environmental and geographical features …
With the Pennines to the east and the Lake District Fells to the west, visitors to Cumbria’s Eden Valley are drawn to its rich history and beautiful countryside which is dotted with traditional towns, attractive sandstone villages and significant buildings like Brougham Castle which dates from Norman times.
The area’s Neolithic past is a highly visible part of the landscape with two henges - Mayburgh Henge and King Arthur’s Round Table – bringing droves of visitors to Eamont Bridge, just south of Penrith, each year.
Penrith itself was a key confluence of communication routes during Roman times with the invaders establishing control of the region from AD 72 until their withdrawal some 300 years later. Their roads led north to Luguvalium (Carlisle), south through the Lune Gorge and along the summit of ‘High Street’ from the fort at Brocavum to Galava at Ambleside. The modern A66 east still follows the old Roman road to York.
This unique history was one of the major factors that Bell Ingram’s chartered surveyors had to consider when determining the route of Northern Gas Network’s new pipeline through part of the Eden Valley.
Andrew Thompson explains: “Once the historical context had been understood, we then had to consider a number of additional natural and man-made features which all needed to be either crossed or drilled under. These included the two tributary rivers of the River Eden (the Lowther and the Eamont) which are both Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) and Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs), and the A66, which all needed to be either crossed or drilled under.”
Once a preferred route was agreed that accommodated all these sensitive historic, environmental, and geographic features, the next step was to identify the affected landowners and commence negotiations.
Andrew continues: “Community engagement and two-way communication is central to the successful delivery of this project. NGN’s preference is to agree rights by negotiation, rather than using the compulsory purchase powers granted to gas transporters under the Gas Act 1986, which means building meaningful, long-term relationships based on trust and integrating feedback into our project. By approaching landowners in this way we hope to create a legacy of safety for communities and the environment.
“It’s also a policy that’s proved highly effective and negotiations, not only with Landowners, but authorities such as Cumbria County Council, Penrith Town Council, Highways England, Environment Agency, are now nearing completion albeit some six months later than anticipated due to the Covid-19 pandemic which delayed the appointment of a contractor. This inevitable hold-up has resulted in the final details on delivery, design and methodologies only recently being agreed between the principal contractor, thirds party consultees and landowners.”
The preferred methodology adopted for both the in-carriageway and cross-county works was directional drilling which logical for the river and A66 crossings and in principle for the agricultural land. Ultimately it should be not be as intrusive as open cutting the pipe in.”
Site establishment is earmarked for mid-September with a six to eight-month programme focussing on the works within the two river floodplains and the agricultural land.