Utilities join forces to kickstart London’s economic COVID-19 recovery with infrastructure projects

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MAYOR of London has announced a package of infrastructure works worth up to £1.5 billion to help kickstart London’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 crisis.

The London Recovery Board, led by Sadiq Khan and Cllr Peter John, the Chair of London Council, have unveiled a plan to join forces with utility companies on the Mayor’s London Infrastructure Group.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, commented on the plans: “The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have been devastating for our economy and we face a long road ahead, but the London Recovery Board has made great progress in working with companies to deliver infrastructure projects that will help to stimulate our economy, create green jobs and support Londoners who have been affected the most by the economic crisis.

“It is essential that infrastructure initiatives are utilised to serve all Londoners as we work to recover from this pandemic and to build back better with a fairer and greener economy.

“By working together with the major utility companies to progress and bring forward these projects, we have a valuable opportunity to improve the diversity of the sector and to help create new jobs for those who have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.

“This will help us to ensure nobody is left behind in London’s recovery.

“I am really pleased to work with the utility companies to support the city now and in the weeks ahead at the same time as reaching out to all Londoners to hear their long-term aspirations for the capital.”

The partnership will progress projects to support the green recovery and jobs, helping to counteract COVID-19’s damaging impact on the economy.

Projects include:

  • Upgrading the gas network to improve the security of London’s gas supplies.
  • Reducing water leakage by 20 per cent and pollution incidents by 30 per cent by 2025.
  • Progressing plans to increase the resilience of the water supply network serving boroughs in north east London; the City and Canary Wharf.
  • Ensuring the electricity infrastructure is in place to support electric vehicles, using innovative planning tools to identify the best charger locations and timings.

Companies including Cadent, Scottish & Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN), SGN, UK Power Networks and Thames Water are working with City Hall and London’s local authorities to also identify new green schemes and accelerate future investment.

Ian Marchant, Interim Executive Chairman at Thames Water, commented: “As we embark on an ambitious programme to invest £1billion over the next two years to improve the water and wastewater services Londoners rely on, it is a real boost to have the backing of the London Recovery Board.

“It is also great news for the economy, because delivering our plans will support our diverse workforce and supply chain, which we’ve continued to grow during the pandemic, recruiting more than 250 staff since March.”

Mark Adolphus, Director of Connections at UK Power Networks, added: “As the company which delivers electricity to 2.3million properties to keep the capital running smoothly, we are a leading architect of the low-carbon economy and know our role is particularly vital now in enabling the UK’s economic recovery.

“We look forward to continuing diverse investment and innovation projects that will help businesses to thrive, and people to make the most of emerging technologies both now, and in the future.

“Safety remains our top priority and all work will be carried out in line with the latest COVID-19 health and safety guidance.”

Some projects may require additional regulatory approval to ensure value for money and affordability, and the Board has stated its commitment to working with utilities, the Government and regulators to progress the case for additional investments that will boost London’s economy.

In addition, the Board has committed to support utility companies in identifying employment opportunities, especially for young people and Londoners from Black, Asian and other minority ethnic backgrounds who have been disproportionately affected by the crisis.

It was noted that, throughout the pandemic, no staff were furloughed in any of these utility companies, and that recruitment has continued.

Once the specific projects have been identified and agreed, they will be delivered with the support of the Mayor’s recently established Infrastructure Coordination Service, to promote collaboration and minimise costly road network disruption, particularly at a time when Mr Khan is encouraging more Londoners to walk and cycle.

James Harrison, Cadent Director of London Network, added: “Cadent is playing an instrumental part in London’s economic recovery, annually investing in upgrading our gas network which helps ensure the capital enjoys the world class infrastructure which enables it to be a leading global business hub.

“We continue to recruit the people who help us do this and we offer exciting employment opportunities across a wide range of disciplines.

 “We’re also investing in green technologies including new zero emission vehicles for our engineers which will help as we all work toward achieving net zero.

“The recovery will also be aided by work we continued and in some cases brought forward during lockdown in usually very busy areas, which has spared London’s economy the costly disruption there could have been had work been done during normal times.”