New digital map shows location of underground cables

A new digital map will help organisations plan out infrastructure projects by showing the location of pipes and cables buried underground. 

The National Underground Asset Register has been launched in North East England, Wales and London with plans to cover the rest of England and Northern Ireland.


Department for Science, Innovation and Technology minister Viscount Camrose said: ‘The government’s National Underground Asset Register will transform how the UK manages its buried infrastructure. 

‘This first step towards UK-wide access, starting in North East England, Wales and London, has been achieved through strong collaboration between government and industry and the ingenuity of the programme team in the Geospatial Commission.’ 

‘It will help us expedite projects like new roads, new houses, and broadband roll-out.’ He added. 

It is hoped that once the map is fully operational, it could help deliver £350m in economic growth per year across England, Wales and Northern Ireland by improving efficiency in construction, reducing disruption to the public and improving workers safety. 

Currently there is around 4 million kilometres of buried pipes and cables in the UK with a hole dug around every 7 seconds to fix, maintain or repair them. There also about 60,000 incidents a year of a pipe or cable being struck during a dig, causing an estimated £2.4bn economic cost. 

‘Asset owners’ are required by law to share information for the purposes of safe digging but there is currently no standardised method for this, the NUAR will bring this information together on a single platform. 

Dr Steve Unger, the Independent Commissioner of the Geospatial Commission described the launch of the NUAR as a ‘major milestone’, he said: ‘And this release is just the start! Whilst it contains data from over 80 organisations, we have already received data from over 100 more, and we are working with many more than that to progress their involvement in the programme.’ 

The use of digital maps to enhance the work of public sector organisation was recently highlighted by the National Association of Local Councils when it released a guidance booklet for the best use of the technology.

Photos by Geospatial Commission and Department for Science, Innovation and Technology, and Mika Baumeister


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