Dunstable Downs project accelerated by state-of-the-art-machinery

A major project to transform the Dunstable Downs skyline has taken advantage of the latest technology to accelerate the work.

UK Power Networks has used a state-of-the-art cable plough at the National Trust site as it works to replace overhead lines with underground cables. Views at the highest point in Bedfordshire will be enhanced by the £2 million project supported by the Chilterns Conservation Board.

The innovative remote-controlled cable plough means trenches do not have to be dug, and can install up to 1,000 metres of electricity cabling a day. This would take at least a fortnight using traditional open-cut techniques in tough chalk ground conditions.

Ivan Churchman, project manager at UK Power Networks, says it was the first time the company has used the new machinery: “We chose to use this to minimise any disruption both to the National Trust visitors and the area’s natural habitat and it has proved to be a fantastic option for us.

“As well as being a more sustainable and environmentally-friendly method, it’s also safer as it removes the risk for open excavations in a public area, and workers entering the trench. It also saves money by reducing the time needed on site, which is what we and landowners both want.”

The project will also boost power supplies for the local area, for the future.

Ben James, operations manager at ATP which supplied the cable plough, comments: “This technology excels in agricultural setting and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty such as Dunstable Downs, it’s the most efficient, environmentally friendly and effective way of installing cables below ground.

“The cable plough’s low impact on the environment, combined with the increased productivity, makes it an effective choice for all parties and we were very happy to team up with UK Power Networks for the first time on this protected piece of the countryside.”

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