T&D World Magazine

Western Power Distribution Using Local Barges to Remove Waste for Electrical Project

A £4m electrical project in Birmingham, UK, is using local barges to remove waste and spoil instead of dumper trucks in an effort to minimize its environmental impact on the city.

The project, which is being carried out by local electricity distributor Western Power Distribution (WPD), will involve the replacement of around 5 km of high voltage cables along the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal towpath between Nechells and Summer Lane. Once complete, it will further safeguard electricity supplies to around 20,000 customers in the city center.

WPD’s investment has been designed to accommodate for any increased demands placed on the electricity network into the future by such things as additional development in the city.
Nigel Morrey, WPD’s Projects Team Manager for the area said: “The canal towpath is the most direct, easily accessible route into Birmingham City Centre. Our aim is to keep disruption to an absolute minimum and we have been liaising with Birmingham City Council, the Canal & River Trust and English Heritage to agree the best way to do this.

“Temporary walk ways have been built over the canal to avoid diverting the pedestrians from the towpath throughout the majority of the work. In addition, all the spoil and rubble from the excavations will be removed by barges, utilizing the existing canal network and helping to further reduce congestion on the surrounding roads.”

WPD’s Ian Evans overseeing the work
WPD’s Ian Evans overseeing the work along the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal towpath.

Peter Mathews CMG, chair of the West Midlands Waterways Partnership for the Canal & River Trust, said: "Our canals were built 200 years ago as a freight route transporting goods all over the country and it is no exaggeration to say that they helped get the Industrial Revolution moving.

"The canals of the twenty-first century offer so much; they are a haven for boaters, engineering-enthusiasts, heritage-lovers, cyclists and walkers and wildlife. That our larger canals are still able to accommodate freight is a testament to their durability - they are still doing the job 200 years after they were built - how many other large scale feats of engineering can claim the same?"                          

Work on the cable replacement has recently started and completion of the project is expected in March 2014.      

The project forms part of WPD’s commitment to provide a consistently high level of service to customers. Around £2 billion is being invested by the company on its electricity network between 2010 and 2015.

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