The Challenge:

  • Access Restrictions: Due to the sensitive nature of the Orwell river area, there were working restrictions on both sides of the river.
  • 132kv duct laying works had restrictions on working times due to high value crop rotation.
  • Horizontal Directional Drilling (HDD) underneath the A120 and Railway was completed in a school playing field, working near children.
  • Ecology: A section of the works required excavation through the Ipswich Country Park, which included ground nesting skylarks. The 33kV interconnection involved directional drilling of the rivers Orwell and Stour and cable laying passing through Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), Special Protection Areas (SPA) and Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) in the Suffolk coastal area. All of the above introduced significant environmental constraints.

The Solution:

  • Enabling Access: A full access plan was undertaken as part of the cable works feasibility. A window between July 2017 and October 2017 was agreed for all excavation works to take place around the river, with some smaller restrictions of movements for lizards, snakes, etc. in open grasslands.
  • Access to each area/field within the land was agreed in advance due to the high value crops being grown.
  • Coordination with summer holiday or Easter break ensured the cabling works were not undertaken when children were at school.
  • Protecting the Environment: liaison with Ipswich Borough Council ensured the works had agreed traffic routes and was undertaken without affecting the population of ground nesting skylarks. Numerous surveys were completed prior to the works to ensure the team were aware of the local ecology, wildlife, habitats, etc. and consents were obtained, where required, e.g. EA approval to cross under the River Orwell.

The Impact:

  • Removal of 21km of overhead lines has improved the appearance of the landscape along the rivers and coastline.
  • Successful delivery of the scheme has improved resilience in the Felixstowe, Shotley and Harwich Peninsula.
  • Successful HDD under the rivers Orwell and Stour effectively linked the peninsulas together. It was the longest directional drill undertaken by UK Power Networks (1100m and 1700m respectively).
  • Maintained positive relationships with stakeholders and the community throughout the works.
" This project will increase the capacity to the area and meet its growing demands for decades to come. The project is very challenging, not least because we will be drilling beneath two rivers and laying more than 35km of cable in total. "
Chris Sugars Project Manager UK Power Networks

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