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Darlington leads the way on national infrastructure project

Darlington leads the way on national infrastructure project
26 January 2022

Darlington is helping to lead to way on a new national project to map underground pipes and cables after becoming one of the first authorities to share live data to the scheme.

The National Underground Asset Register (NUAR) aims to reduce some of the £2.4bn cost of accidental damage to utilities each year across the country while also saving time gathering location information and improving worker safety.

The scheme is being rolled out initially in the North East, London and Wales – and Darlington Borough Council has the honour of being one of the very first to form part of the national map.

The current system, dating back decades, means that if a contractor wants to dig to reach its own equipment it must check with every other utility provider individually to find out what they might have in the area and build their own map.

While some utilities are obvious – gas, electric, water, broadband – some are not so obvious, such as traffic counters, fire service hydrants and street lighting cables.

The new system will ask every provider to submit data to a central hub, run by the Geospatial Commission, which will produce a live online map showing every layer of utilities – meaning one instant search for engineers rather than up to 12 separate requests for information.

The council submitted its first data this month (January), mapping street lighting, illuminated signs and cables, with drainage information to follow.

Councillor Andy Keir, cabinet member for local services, said: “The NUAR is something I think all highways and utilities engineers have been waiting for their whole careers and I’m very proud to say that Darlington is helping to kickstart the national map.

“We know the roads and pavements are full of traffic and pedestrians, but we don’t think about the vital services underneath. Everything we depend on in society runs underneath our roads, verges and pavements to reach our properties.

“The NUAR will save a huge amount of time for our engineers and make these vital checks much more efficient.”

Find out more about the national project at




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