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UK Power Networks employs a cable plough to restore Dunstable Downs skyline

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Dunstable Downs Cable Plough

UK Power Networks has employed a state-of-the-art cable plough to help it complete its Dunstable Downs project as quickly as possible. 

The project aims to restore the skyline of the Dunstable Downs, a National Trust site, by removing overhead power lines with underground cables. Due to the sensitivity of the site, UK Power Networks wanted to ensure that the work was done quickly and with minimal disruption. 

That’s where a remote-controlled cable plough came in, which meant that UK Power Networks could avoid digging trenches to lay cable. In fact, up to 1,000 metres of cabling could be installed each day with the cable plough, compared to the usual fortnight it would take using traditional open-cut techniques in tough chalk ground conditions. 

Ivan Churchman, project manager at UK Power Networks, said 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.”

While the project will restore the skyline of the Dunstable Downs, improving the views at the highest point in Bedfordshire, the project will also boost power supplies for the local area. 

Ben James, operations manager at ATP which supplied the cable plough, said: “This technology excels in agricultural settings 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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