A THREE-year project to replace 48km of underground electricity cables is due to get underway this month.

Northern Powergrid is starting a £9m investment programme in Darlington.

It is scheduled to start next week and will run until early 2024, and will see work done to replace 48km of high voltage underground electricity cables, dating back to the 1950s, with a more modern alternative.

A Northern Powergrid spokesperson said: "This new cabling will be capable of meeting any future increase in the demand for power as the town develops, the population grows and more people swap their cars for electric vehicles."

The work, which is being carried out by O’Connor Utilities on Northern Powergrid’s behalf, will involve excavating in the footpath and roadway at locations across the town.

Paul Dixon, Northern Powergrid’s customer service manager for the region, said: “We’re always very aware of the potential impact of our work on people’s everyday lives, which is why we’re doing all we can to support and communicate with local people while we carry out this important investment in Darlington’s electricity network.

The Northern Echo: Northern Powergrid - Darlington Investment Scheme Map - 24398 - Stage 2Northern Powergrid - Darlington Investment Scheme Map - 24398 - Stage 2

“We’ll be issuing information to all affected customers to explain what we’ll be doing and when. Our letters will also provide details of how to sign up for free to our priority services membership which offers extra support to customers who may be more vulnerable.

The route involves a number of main roads including Whessoe Road, Salters Lane North, Salters Lane South, Whinfield Road, Stockton Road and Haughton Road plus ancillary roads.

Northern Powergrid has worked with Darlington Council to agree the best routes and times for work to take place.

The first stage of work, lasting until mid-February, will take place along John Dixon Lane from near the junction of John Williams Boulevard to the junction of the service road that runs behind Hundens Lane.

From the end January to the end of April there will be multi-way traffic lights in operation while work is done on Whessoe Road, from the junction of Longfield Road to the junction of North Road.

From the middle to end of February, work will take place on Longfield Road from the junction of Whessoe Road to Northern Powergrid’s substation on Percy Road.

In February and March work takes place along Elmtree Street from the junction of Whessoe Road to the entrance of Honeypot Caravan Park.

From mid-February to mid-April the service road that runs behind the westbound side of Hundens Lane will be closed from the junction of John Dixon Lane up to the second access road while work takes place in the roadway. And in April multi-way lights will be in operation while work is done in Hundens Lane and Byron Road up to the junction of Arnold Road.

From the end of April to early May work takes place in the footpath along Arnold Road from the junction of Byron Road to the B6279 bridge.

These dates may be subject to change.

There are no plans to turn off anyone’s power and it is unlikely that access to premises will be required.

Pedestrian access will be maintained at all times and Northern Powergrid will ensure that any businesses affected can make arrangements to continue to receive their deliveries.

Mr Dixon added: "While we progress with our work in Darlington, we’ll be following the latest government advice to keep our employees, contractors and customers safe and our work will be carried out in line with the latest Covid-19 health and safety guidance.

"With this in mind, we’re asking customers not to approach our teams if they see them working unless it’s an electricity emergency – and, if they do, to always maintain social distancing.”