Jennette Arnold
London assembly member for North East London — fighting your corner at City Hall
Pavement ‘explosions’ are putting lives at risk

Pavement ‘explosions’ are putting lives at risk

Pavement ‘explosions’ are putting lives at risk. New figures have revealed almost 80 incidents in London in the last five years. 39 of those explosions have taken place in the E, N and EC postcodes, in the North East London area. UK Power Networks, the company responsible for running and maintaining the power cables in London and the South East, must do more to ensure that old and unsafe cabling and equipment was replaced before it became dangerous.

Figures from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) reveal that between February 2010 and February 2015 there were 199 incidents where link boxes or cable pits failed – the prime cause of most pavement explosions. 77 of these incidents were deemed to be ‘disruptive’ which is described by the HSE as “involving fire, explosion and/or the involvement of the fire service.

This is the equivalent of more than one disruptive incident every month over the five year period. Around half of the incidents occurred last year, with over 40 ‘disruptive’ incidents reported in 2014 alone. This comes despite HSE stating that they stepped up inspections in April last year.

The explosions are generally caused by electrical faults with underground electrical equipment (primarily link boxes or cable pits) due to poor maintenance of the network. I believe that UK Power Networks and South Eastern Power who are responsible for the maintenance of electrical equipment, should be doing everything possible to crack down on dangerous equipment failures.

Thankfully pavement explosions are relatively rare but when they do occur the consequences can be very serious.

With more than 40 explosions last year and 39 in North East London alone, it’s time UK Power Networks did everything possible to crack down on this potentially life threatening problem.

“his is a company which made almost two hundred million pounds profit last year. It shouldn’t be too much to ask for them to invest a little of that in overhauling their aging electricity supply network and stepping up inspections.