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The North of England’s gas distributor, Northern Gas Networks (NGN), is working in partnership with housing provider Gentoo Group, to deliver a project that will bring affordable warmth to Gentoo Group residents in and around the Albany, Oxclose and Fatfield areas of Washington.

The network extension scheme and heating systems upgrade, which began on Monday 8th October, will involve NGN connecting around 1,000 owner occupiers and tenants to the gas network free of charge. Gentoo will then install modern gas central heating systems in residents’ homes, which will replace the existing district heating system.

The heating upgrade, which will help residents save energy and money and improve their homes, is taking place following extensive research and feedback from residents about the current internal heating system and has been carefully planned in conjunction with Sunderland City Council.

NGN is responsible for distributing gas to homes and businesses across Yorkshire, the North East and northern Cumbria.  Its network spans 25,000 sq km and contains some of the most economically deprived communities in the UK, from remote parts of rural Northumberland to deprived areas of Bradford.

NGN will be establishing a customer cabin Arklecrag (the cabin will be situated facing number one Arklecrag in the car park, in Albany), where more details about the works will be displayed and the team will be available to answer customers’ questions.

NGN’s Customer Care Officers have been door-knocking residents to talk to them about the work and regular updates will also be available on NGN’s website northerngasnetworks.co.uk, Twitter @NGNgas and Facebook @northerngasnetworks.

Fergal O’Donovan, Business Operations Lead in Wear for Northern Gas Networks said: “At Northern Gas Networks we are dedicated to helping people to access affordable warmth.   We’re delighted to work with Gentoo Group to connect residents to the gas network free of charge and help them to create more comfortable homes and save money on their energy bills by giving them access to new heating systems.

“We have been working closely with Sunderland City Council to carefully plan these works and will be doing all we can to minimise disruption to customers.”

Conan McKinley, Director of Asset Strategy at Gentoo Group said: “We’re delighted to work in partnership with Northern Gas Networks on this investment programme. Not only will this work give people the power to choose who supplies their energy, but it will also create more efficient properties following the installation of the combi boilers.”

Sunderland City Council Cabinet Member for Environment and Transport, Councillor Amy Wilson said:  “Listening to people’s concerns about how to best reduce their heating bills while still keeping their homes warm, is a direct way we can all help understand and tackle ‘fuel poverty’ which still affects many households.

“Working with our partners at Gentoo and Northern Gas Networks we’ve hopefully come up with a solution to the problem for people living in these neighbourhoods in Washington, but there’s still some work to be done.

“Increasing energy efficiency means decreasing energy bills and installing new heating systems to replace old inefficient systems is one practical way of achieving this.”

The project at Washington will be registered as a Considerate Constructors Scheme site – the key principles are to ensure minimal impact to the environment, customers and the community while observing the highest standards of safety.

For further information about the project please contact NGN’s Customer Care Team on 0800 040 7766 or email customercare@northerngas.co.uk.

Anyone that smells gas or suspects carbon monoxide should call the National Gas Emergency Service immediately on 0800 111 999. This line is in operation 24-hours a day, seven days a week.