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Fuel poverty partnership marks landmark achievement

A partnership formed to tackle fuel poverty across the North of England has just completed its 2,000th fully funded gas network connection.

The connection follows a series of projects totalling more than £2.3m. Northern Gas Networks and Community Energy Solutions (CES) made the landmark connection earlier this month during a project made possible by £140,000 fuel poor funding to extend the mains pipeline to 106 social housing properties at Hartlepool, Teesside.

The project, undertaken on behalf of regional housing company Guinness Northern Counties, is the latest in a series of similar fuel poor schemes to be completed in partnership between the North of England’s gas pipeline owner, Northern Gas Networks and fuel poverty specialist CES, which has already totalled more than £2.3m in NGN funding.

Kevin Drake from Northern Gas Networks said:  “Bringing affordable warmth to communities affected by fuel poverty is a vital part of our activity.

“The significant sum already invested in schemes across the North East, Yorkshire and North Cumbria is testament to this on-going commitment. 

“We are delighted to have now made our 2000th fuel poor gas network connection through our dedicated community project initiative in partnership with Community Energy Solutions and look forward to similar success in the years to come.”

Northern Gas Networks and CES, which has offices at Leeds and Tyneside, have been working together to tackle fuel poverty since the fuel poor network extension scheme was introduced by Ofgem in early 2009, when the partnership delivered one of the first projects of this type in the UK. 

During the past three years the partnership has worked with various local authorities and social housing providers across the North-east and Yorkshire, including Leeds City Council, Wakefield Council, Wakefield and District Housing, Riverside, Erimus Housing and Tees Valley Housing, carrying out gas network extensions in towns and cities from Wakefield and Leeds, to Hull, Middlesbrough and Stockton. 

Where applicable, private homes in these areas have also been offered fully-funded connections to the gas main network, as well as a full support package of measures to help achieve affordable warmth.

Chris Sowerbutts, project manager for Community Energy Solutions, said: “The partnership between CES and Northern Gas Networks has already produced significant results and we are delighted to have helped so many organisations, tenants and home owners across Northern England.

“Fuel poverty is still a real problem for many people and is rising in many areas as fuel cost price increases outpace household incomes, but we’re helping to tackle this, one gas network connection at a time.”

For more information about Community Energy Solutions visit www.cesgroup.org or call 0113 237 2720 (Leeds) or 0191 2377200 (South Tyneside).