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A gas distribution network fit for the challenges we face

Mark Belmega, Director of Sustainability and Social Purpose

Mark Belmega, Director of Sustainability and Social Purpose | Cadent

3 min read Partner content

Ahead of Labour Party Conference, Cadent’s Director of Sustainability and Social Purpose, Mark Belmega, explains how the UK’s largest gas distribution network is putting customers first, creating fairer opportunities within the sector and leading the charge to net zero.

Cadent is the UK’s largest gas distribution network, covering the North West, East and West Midlands, South Yorkshire, East of England and North London. We sometimes still get referred to as the gas board by our customers, which came into existence in 1949, but our history goes back long before that, to the turn of the 19th Century. For over two-hundred years we, and our predecessors, have been maintaining one of the most comprehensive gas networks in the world.

Being a gas network operator, maintaining the safety and security of the UK’s energy supply is always number one on our priority list. We manage a network that spans 132,000 km (that’s over three times around the earth) and provide energy to 11 million homes, businesses, schools, and hospitals. But we want to be more than just an organisation measured by lengths of pipe - not because society expects businesses like ours to do more, but because we, as the people who work in this business want to do more and be a force for good through our organisation.

With that in mind, we strive to create fairer opportunities and provide training to those who need it to succeed. By 2026, we will ensure our local delivery partners provide best-practice standards on equality, diversity, inclusion, and fair pay. And we’re also working to inspire 100,000 people from underrepresented and disadvantaged groups to gain access to career opportunities in the energy sector by 2030.

As part of our Easier Warmth initiative, we have over 100 Centres for Warmth across our footprint, supporting people who are financially vulnerable to keep them warm, safe, and connected. On average, visitors to these centres could save around £2,500. Since 2021 we’ve supported over 40,000 customers across our footprint, creating a total social value of almost £100 million. We plan to increase the number of centres to over 200 by 2026. Our Cadent Foundation is also dedicated to helping tackle fuel poverty. Through some amazing partnerships with organisations like Citizens Advice, Groundworks and the Trussell Trust, in the past year, we have provided almost £3 million to support this mission.

With regards to net zero, we, alongside the other gas networks, boiler manufacturers, and a range of industrial and political partners believe hydrogen can play a major role in supporting an easier and less disruptive transition to net zero home heating. Whatever range of solutions the Government picks to decarbonise heating, every one of  over 20 million homes in the UK will require new appliances fitting. Millions of new boilers, new electric heating solutions, new cookers, new fires; installed in nearly every house on nearly every street, from the far north of Scotland all the way down to Cornwall.

Wherever the debate on hydrogen for home heating ends, we will still have over 20 million homes across the UK that will need support transitioning away from natural gas. That’s why we are partnering with the New Statesman at Labour Conference to put on a panel discussing How can the Energy Sector support customers on the journey to Net Zero on Monday 9th October between 1pm and 2pm, in the Secure Zone. This will be an incredibly important issue, and one I hope many conference delegates will be interested to explore with us.

Ultimately, we want everyone at Cadent to be proud to say they are just doing their job, and I believe our organisation is one where we are increasingly succeeding in that ambition.

For more information about the New Statesman event at Labour Conference, please email Alice.Offley@cadentgas.com 

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