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Balfour Beatty’s Innovative Approach to Cable Laying Enhances Efficiency and Safety


Balfour Beatty has successfully automated the installation of a 250 metre 33kV cable underneath the woodland of South Yorkshire, as part of its work on the Neepsend project in Sheffield, on behalf of National Grid.

The cable, which connects the National Grid to the region’s Northern Powergrid substations, provides a reliable source of electricity to local residents and businesses.

Traditionally fitted by a winch and bond method, the terrain and the tight bends the cable was required to travel meant the traditional methods of cable laying were not suitable. Balfour Beatty instead implemented an innovative “cable push system”.

The system sees the use of a motorised machine to drive the cable under and through the ground instead of operatives utilising a winch system and manually guiding the cable through.

This innovative technique not only maximises efficiencies in cable laying but improves safety in working practices by automating the process while decreasing cable tension, significantly reducing the risk of damage to the cable. This approach, not widely used on National Grid projects, sets a high standard for the innovative solutions expected to be implemented in the future of projects similar to this.     

Andrew Smith, Head of Operations for Balfour Beatty’s Power Transmission and Distribution business said: “Our engineering excellence combined with our commitment to ensuring the continued reliability of the National Grid network was instrumental in implementing this innovative, forward-thinking approach.  

“Deploying bespoke resources and tailoring the solution to the environment allowed for a safer delivery of this complex cable-laying project while also providing the most effective and efficient solution for National Grid.”

ENDS | follow us @balfourbeatty


 Notes to editors:

  • Balfour Beatty ( is a leading international infrastructure group. With 26,000 employees, we provide innovative and efficient infrastructure that underpins our daily lives, supports communities and enables economic growth. We finance, develop, build and maintain complex infrastructure such as transportation, power and utility systems, social and commercial buildings.
  • Our main geographies are the UK, US and Hong Kong. Over the last 100 years we have created iconic buildings and infrastructure all over the world including the London Olympics’ Aquatic Centre, Hong Kong’s first Zero Carbon building, the National Museum of the Marine Corps in the US and the Channel Tunnel Rail Link.
  • Balfour Beatty’s Power Transmission & Distribution teams work with regional, national and international electricity network owners and operators to provide technical engineering solutions across the full spectrum of the electricity grid, including overhead lines, cabling, substations and distribution networks.
  • From scoping and feasibility, to design, construction and on-going maintenance, our in-house experts, flexible resources and industry-leading innovations support clients in the development of some of the UK’s most ambitious power transmission and distribution projects.
  • Recently, the business was awarded the ‘Hinkley 400kV Cable Works (Mendips)’ contract by National Grid plc as part of the ‘National Grid Underground Cable Framework’. Other recent awards include: two contracts worth c. £43.5 million for the Beauly to Keith 132kV modernisation programme; both contracts for have been awarded by Scottish Hydro Electric Transmission plc, part of Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN), through the existing F2 Overhead Line General Works Framework and the 132kV Underground Cable Works Framework. Two further contracts, worth c. £47 million, were awarded for the Fort Augustus to Fort William 132kV Transmission Reinforcement project from Scottish Hydro Electric Transmission plc, part of Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN), also through the existing F2 Overhead Line General Works Framework and the 132kV Underground Cable Works Framework.

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