Ben Houchen this week welcomed cabinet office minister Lord True CBE to the region as government launches the next phase of its scheme to digitally map underground pipes and cables.
The new digital maps will mean less disruption for local people, a reduction in the delays in work being carried out and quicker redevelopment of brownfield sites.
The mayor joined Lord True at Northumbria Water’s water treatment centre in Darlington to meet industry representatives as the National Underground Asset Register (NUAR) enters its build phase.
The Tees Valley will be one of the first areas to have its underground network assets – including those providing vital services such as gas, water, electricity and telecommunications – mapped by the project.
It aims to tackle the annual £2.4billion cost of accidental utility damage while revolutionising construction and development by improving efficiencies and workers’ safety and reducing disruption to projects which otherwise might fall victim to unforeseen ground conditions.
It will also help ensure these underground services can be efficiently maintained and delivered to homes and businesses.
The project is being built in partnership between industry and Government, including its Geospacial Commission, over the next three years.
Mayor Houchen said: “I am absolutely delighted that this innovative new map of what lies beneath our feet is being launched and rolled out in Teesside.
“This new service will mean less mistakes are made when digging holes and less disruption to local people.
“Across Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool we’re making huge strides; we are transforming northern Europe’s biggest brownfield site at Teesworks creating thousands of jobs and transforming our economy to a greener future, and this new map will be incredibly helpful.”
Lord True said: “I am delighted to launch the build phase of the UK’s new National Underground Asset Register.
“This new digital map of the UK’s underground utilities assets demonstrates our commitment to putting innovation at the forefront of the UK’s economic recovery and ambition to Build Back Better.”
Tamsin Lishman, asset management director at Northumbrian Water Group said: “It is incredible to see this project grow from an idea in a tent at our Innovation Festival 2018 to now being adopted and developed by the UK Government.
“Once completed, this project will be potentially life-saving. NUAR will improve safety for our people and those working across the utility sector, as the risk of striking other people’s assets will be reduced.”