Northern utility companies are researching the negative impact of maintenance, replacement and repair works on communities.
The project, coordinated by the Energy Innovation Centre (EIC), will investigate how innovative techniques can be used to reduce the impact on residents, maximise benefits and drive productivity.
Northern Gas Networks, Northern Power Grid, Yorkshire Water and Northumbrian Water have appointed WRc and Collingwood Environmental Planning to carry out the “first cross utility industry research to explore the social impact of network interventions”.
EIC chief executive Denise Massey said: “We are delighted to be undertaking such an important research project with a range of cross-industry partners which is the first of its kind in the UK.
“We believe that by working collaboratively on this topic we will be able to identify how innovation can transform maintenance works so that people and places no longer feel their negative impact.
“We hope that our findings will lead to a more cohesive, people-centric approach that can be replicated across the rest of the UK.
“This project is an excellent example of how we can work together for a better collective future.”
Routine maintenance works often come under fire for causing disruption to residents, traffic and local businesses and for the negative impact they can have on the environment, health and local economy.
Northern Powergrid’s innovation manager Chris Goodhand said: “By putting society at the heart of this new research we’ll be able to gain an insight into how the work we do to every day to improve our networks impact on communities.
“The outcomes of the research may help inform more innovative approaches that enable more effective investment and better coordinated network projects while minimising disruption and delivering long-term enhancements and economic benefits to the communities we serve.”