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  • by Karma Loveday

Utilities at heart of London’s Covid recovery in mayor's £1.5bn package

Thames Water is among the utilities that will be involved in a £1.5bn package of infrastructure works over the next two years announced by Mayor of London Sadiq Khan to help kickstart the capital’s economic recovery from the Covid 19 crisis.

The Mayor and the London Recovery Board (which is co-ordinating London's future post-Covid) plan to join forces with utilities to progress projects to support the green recovery and jobs. Projects include:

increasing the resilience of the water supply network serving boroughs in north east London, the City and Canary Wharf;

  • reducing water leakage by 20% and pollution incidents by 30% by 2025;

  • upgrading the gas network to improve the security of London’s gas supplies; and

  • ensuring the electricity infrastructure is in place to support electric vehicles, using innovative planning tools to identify the best charger locations and timings.

Companies including Thames Water, Cadent, Scottish & Southern Electricity Networks, SGN and UK Power Networks are working with City Hall and London’s local authorities to also identify new green schemes and accelerate future investment, providing new jobs that meet the Mayor’s aim for London to be a fairer, more equal, greener and resilient city post-Covid.

Some projects may require additional regulatory approval to ensure value for money and affordability. The London Recovery Board has stated its “commitment to working with utilities, the government and regulators to progress the case for additional investments that will boost London’s economy”.

In addition, the board has committed to support utility companies in identifying employment opportunities, especially for young people and Londoners from Black, Asian and other minority ethnic backgrounds who have been disproportionately affected by the crisis. It was noted that, throughout the pandemic, no staff were furloughed in any of these utility companies, and that recruitment has continued.

Once the specific projects have been identified and agreed, they will be delivered with the support of the Mayor’s recently established Infrastructure Coordination Service, to promote collaboration and minimise costly road network disruption.

The Mayor’s office praised utilities for their service through the Covid crisis and their potential to contribute to a green recovery: “London’s utility companies make a huge contribution to the capital’s economy, employing engineers, contractors and construction workers in the water, electricity and gas sectors. GLA Economics analysis shows that for every 1,000 jobs created in the sector, an additional 500 jobs are created on production across supply chains, highlighting the importance of the sector driving employment opportunities… The pandemic has shown the vital role that utilities play in delivering essential services and enabling the capital to function. Key infrastructure workers have helped to keep essential services running during the lockdown period; providing heat, water and energy to thousands of homes, as well as enabling people to communicate and move safely through the city.”


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