On the face of it, National Grid isn’t synonymous with one of the biggest music festivals in the world. But, every year we have an important presence at Glastonbury.
Vince Osborne, Pipeline Technician in the Gas Transmission Owner (GTO) business, explains our role.
Invisible on the surface, we have a high-pressure gas pipeline running underneath the Glastonbury festival site. It’s buried underground and doesn’t have any impact on the actual event; but the event can have an impact on the pipe.
A fair amount of temporary construction work happens before and during the festival, so we need to make sure that nothing’s driven into the ground over the pipeline.
At the beginning of the year, in February, we confirm when the primary security fence – around 8-10km in length, spanning the perimeter of the entire festival – is going to be put up. Timing can vary depending on the weather, as the fence isn’t built until after the grass has been cut by local farmers – requiring a dry spell … which Glastonbury isn’t renowned for!
We hold a follow-up meeting in April to make sure we have the correct dates. We then go to the site in May to mark out the route of the pipeline. This is crucial to make sure that the long pins that are driven in as part of the fence build don’t inadvertently damage the pipe.
For the duration of the festival – Tuesday until the following Monday – we stay on site. We’re in frequent contact with the control centre to make sure that the gas pressure is maintained at the right level, and we also check that festival-goers haven’t put up any large marquees or similar structures over our pipeline – both inside and outside the perimeter fence.
Four of us attend every year. It means that if for whatever reason the control centre can’t manage pressures, we have two people to operate each block valve at either end of the festival grounds to sort it out manually.