Responding to leaflets distributed to some Redcar residents
Following a leaflet being distributed to some properties in Redcar over recent days our Director, Tim Harwood has written the following response
Since publishing this letter we have spoken to the team who are proposing to convert the area of Whitby, near Ellesmere Port to hydrogen. We believe this is the area referred to in the leaflet where it is claimed house sales have fallen through. The team have said that although they are aware of rumours, they have asked that anybody whose house sale has fallen through contacts the team and nobody has come forward. They have also checked with local estate agents whether they are aware of an issue with house sales as a result of the proposal and they have reported that they are not.
Dear Redcar Residents,
I’m leading the team at Northern Gas Networks which is proposing to switch some areas of Redcar from natural gas to hydrogen from 2025 and I’m responding to the contents of a leaflet delivered to a number of residents during recent days.
Much of the information on the leaflet is inaccurate and misleading. Below, I’ve set out responses to the factually incorrect statements made in it:
|The leaflet states…||What you need to know…|
|The leaflet states a Government study predicts that gas explosion will increase by four times.||This is not correct. A Government report included information that hydrogen boilers could be four times more explosive than natural boilers but that this additional risk could be mitigated to bring the risk levels down to the same as today’s natural gas boilers. After independently reviewing the safety assessment, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) wrote to the Government to state it was satisfied that the assessment provided the basis for designing future hydrogen trials. This information may be of interest.|
|The leaflet implies that Northern Gas Networks will be experimenting with health and safety.||This is untrue. The HSE has stated the conversion will go ahead only when the safety case has been proven and the project is not a test of safety. HSE will review the safety evidence for the trials and once that evidence has been assessed it will advise the Government, who will make the final decision on whether the conversion should go ahead.|
|The leaflet states the project is going ahead just so energy companies can stay in business.||This is untrue. Hydrogen is being explored by the Government as one option for decarbonising home heating. It is cited in several Government documents including the Hydrogen Strategy, Energy White Paper and Heat and Buildings Strategy. Northern Gas Networks was invited to put forward a proposal for a hydrogen village by the Government and energy Regulator, Ofgem.|
|The leaflet states if residents choose an electric option they will pay.||This is not true, everyone is entitled to an electric alternative and will not be left financially disadvantaged. The details of this offer are being finalised through consultation with our Citizen’s Panel.|
|The leaflet states that hydrogen may push heating bills up by as much as 500%.||There are no guarantees about the long term cost of hydrogen (or natural gas or other forms of energy) but in relation to this project, customers will not be financially disadvantaged at any point, including at the end.|
|The leaflet states no independent advice has been provided to protect or help residents.||This is untrue. We have enlisted the help of the charity National Energy Action (NEA) and customers have been invited to contact them for independent advice. NEA has attended events and will be at the Hydrogen Hub between 2pm and 7pm on Tuesday 21st February for anyone wishing to speak to them. You can also call them on 0800 138 9023|
The leaflet calls for an independent vote. During this period of detailed design, we have conducted a consultation survey through an independent research company. This was answered by 699 residents and property owners and showed 76% of respondents felt positive or very positive about our proposal, 19% were indifferent or undecided and 5% were negative or very negative. Overall 89% of respondents indicated they’d use hydrogen for heating in the event the project proceeds, 6% electric and 5% were undecided. In addition, a large number of engineering surveys have been completed at both residential and business properties in recent months.
The leaflet states insurance companies in another part of the country have advised customers they would not be insured if they were converted to hydrogen. We’re working to get a clearer answer on insurance, however insurance companies will not be able to give advice to policyholders until they receive the information required to inform insurance policies. This is unlikely to be before the government decision on the project’s progress. The leaflet states property sales in another area have fallen through due to the proposal. This is not an issue we’ve been made aware of in Redcar, but do get in touch if your experience is different.
Whilst we are in this consultation phase, it’s true that we do not always have full answers to every question, but my team is open, honest and available to the residents of Redcar. We thank everyone for their support. We have received lots of great feedback, both positive and negative, and this is helping us to finalise our detailed design, which will be submitted at the end of March. We will then find out later in the year whether the proposal will proceed.
I understand some residents in streets of Redcar which are not due for conversion may have received leaflets and this is causing confusion. The map of properties due to be converted is available in the hub or on our website.
We completely understand that some residents and landlords are opposed to our proposal and we recognise that because we selected Redcar, people are being asked to consider the move away from natural gas ahead of the rest of the country. We of course expect that everyone will have questions and concerns and want to keep talking to everyone. Our Hydrogen Hub on the High Street is open 10am to 4pm Tuesdays to Saturdays and tomorrow (Tuesday 21st February) I will personally be there from 2pm to 6pm for part of the drop-in session for anyone wishing to learn more about hydrogen production and storage, or meet a representative from NEA. It would be great to see as many of you there as possible to hear your feedback directly so please do call in if you can. Here are details of upcoming events at the hub, all running from 2pm to 7.15pm
- Tuesday 21st February – Hydrogen production and storage, plus representatives from National Energy Action will be on hand to provide energy related advice including costs and usage
- Tuesday 28th February – Gas and Hydrogen Safety
- Thursday 9th March – Hydrogen appliances
We hope the community can work together to ensure everyone receives accurate information and that vulnerable people, in particular are protected. If any members of the community need support, we are here and happy to make home visits. Just call us on 0800 040 7766 or email email@example.com . For the latest news and information, local residents and landlords can join our facebook group
Hydrogen Programme Director
Northern Gas Networks