Sheffield cable replacement project: Frequently asked questions

Here you’ll find answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about the Sheffield cable replacement project. 

Please let us know if you have any further questions by emailing [email protected] or by calling 0808 175 0206.

Who is National Grid?

National Grid plays a vital part in Britain’s energy system. National Grid’s work connects millions of people and businesses to the energy they use every day. 

National Grid is an energy company operating in the UK and US. In England and Wales, National Grid owns and operates the energy transmission network which transfers electricity from where it is generated to where it is needed. Cables are a key component of our electricity transmission system.

Why are you replacing cables?

National Grid is replacing three existing 275kV underground cable routes between Pitsmoor, Wincobank and Templeborough substations in Sheffield, as they have reached the end of their lifecycle. 

The original cables were installed over 40 years ago and have been in use ever since. They are now coming to the end of their operational life and need replacing to maintain the security of electricity supplies for the local area and beyond.

Are the new cables taking the same routes as the existing cables?

No, we need to find a different route for the replacement cables. 

This is because the existing connection plays such an important role it can’t be disconnected from the national network while we install the replacement cables. We need to keep the network operational throughout the cable replacement scheme and there is insufficient space along the existing cable routes to install new circuits while the existing routes remain operational.

Where are the cables that are there at the moment?

Currently, there are three cable routes:

1. Pitsmoor substation to Wincobank substation 

2. Wincobank substation to Templeborough substation 

3. Pitsmoor substation to Templeborough substation

The current route (west to east) follows the railway track from Brightside Junction to the A6109, where it diverts southeast following the alignment of the road down to the River Don crossing. At this point, the cable passes over two existing cable bridges, one across the River Don and the other across the Sheffield and Tinsley Canal, before continuing north east along Sheffield Road. It diverts southeast at Ferrars Road, towards Templeborough substation.

Where are the new cables going?

There will be two sections of underground cable route for this scheme. The first will connect Pitsmoor and Wincobank substations, the second will connect Wincobank and Templeborough substations.

Route One: Pitsmoor - Wincobank

This section of the cable route will run from Pitsmoor substation, which is located just off Carlisle Street East, down Newhall Road to the junction with Brightside Lane. It will then run along Brightside Lane in an easterly direction, on to Meadowhall Road and will connect into the Wincobank substation, which is situated just off Meadowhall Road.

Route Two: Wincobank - Templeborough 

This section of the cable route will run from the Wincobank substation just off Meadowhall Road, along Meadowhall Road and onto Alsing Road until the M1 flyover. Here the cable route will turn south and run under the M1 viaduct to join Blackburn Meadows Way. At this juncture the route will turn east along Blackburn Meadows Way, under the River Don and over the A6178 Sheffield Road onto St Lawrence Road. The route will then continue onto Highgate, will connect with a Public Right of Way (PRoW SHE/452) and then connect with the Templeborough substation just east of Chapel Flat Dyke.

What happens to the existing cables? Do you take them out when you lay new cables?

The current cables are oil filled. The oil will be purged out of the cables using specialist equipment to minimise oil loss and contained in a double lined bowser upon removal. Some sections of the cable will then be removed, where their removal will not create excessive disruption. 

In the time since the cables were first placed, many other utilities have been installed in the ground on top of the cables. Excavating these sections could be very dangerous and disruptive, so these sections will be capped and remain buried in the ground.

What happens to the oil that has been purged out of the existing cable?

The oil will be cleaned and recycled, and may potentially be reused.

How did you decide where to put the cables?

Before we started work, we carried out a detailed review of a wide range of factors when deciding where to place the new cables. This included considering the environment, engineering, security, land and property owners, the community and archaeology. We found that installing the new cables along the chosen route from Pitsmoor to Templeborough would minimise effects on the environment and local people and their property.

What permission do you need to do the work?

We are undertaking much of our work under National Grid’s permitted development rights for essential national infrastructure. We are working closely with Sheffield City Council and other important organisations as well as landowners to secure other specific permissions and licences we need to do our work.

Who is carrying out the work?

National Grid has appointed Balfour Beatty as the contractor to carry out these works. Balfour Beatty may work alongside approved sub-contractors for certain phases of the project.

When will the works start?

Construction to replace the cables are expected to start in May 2024. However, before construction can begin, we will need to complete some essential site survey works. These site surveys will help us better understand what is in the ground before we excavate.

What surveys are you doing?

The contractor will conduct two surveys on the route. The first is Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) surveys. This process involves radar technology to gain an initial understanding of what is in the ground. The second type of survey will be ground investigation surveys, which involve the drilling of boreholes and the hand digging of pits to build on the information of the GPR surveys. 

We will also need to do some vegetation clearance to access the ground for the surveys.

Will there be any disruption to my electricity supply during these works?

No, electricity supplies won’t be affected. The current cables will stay connected until the new ones are in place and connected. We will then disconnect the old cables. There will be no interruption to supply.

How will the works affect my journey?

While we are conducting the surveys, we will need to implement some traffic management measures. These will include:

  • partial road closures in phases along the section of road we are working on
  • some temporary restriction of parking slots in the section of road we are working on
  • some temporary traffic signals.

We anticipate the journey times may increase slightly as a result of these measures. However, most of the works that will require traffic management measures will be carried out at night and away from residential areas and major throughfares. Works in residential areas will be kept to a minimum and will be done between 9am-3:30pm where possible.

Will there be any road closures?

Due to the nature of these works and the route that the cables need to take along both residential roads and key transport corridors, some disruption to the public is unavoidable. However, we will do everything possible to minimise this disruption.

The survey and replacement works will be carried out in sections and advance notice will be provided via road signage and communications sent out to residential and business properties in the affected locations. This will allow people to plan their journeys in advance. 

Balfour Beatty has developed a traffic management plan to manage traffic flows around any lane closures, diversions and temporary parking restrictions.

Will on-street parking be affected?

Some on street parking will be affected by these works. Parking will be restricted in phases – only the parking spaces in the immediate area around the works will be restricted and they will be made available again once our team move to the next section of the road. We will share more information about which parking will be affected and when with the local community prior to works beginning in their area.

The communications team will also contact local businesses and organisations ahead of and during work to make sure as many people as possible know about how the works might affect them well in advance.

Will we be able to walk down the affected roads?

Footpaths will be unaffected in most cases. Temporary pedestrian routes and crossings will be created where necessary to ensure that pedestrians are able to continue to walk around the site where we are working.

Will people’s homes and land be affected by the project?

While we have developed this scheme to minimise effects on local people, we do need access to some land locally. We’ve already been speaking with landowners about this project, to agree the work we are doing. The works will not interrupt the supply of electricity to residential and business properties in the area.

What assessments have you undertaken to ensure that your work won’t have a negative impact on the local environment?

As we build and maintain our electricity assets, we understand that we have an impact on land and local habitats. We are committed to reducing the fragmentation of habitats and species, preventing permanent habitat loss, and delivering new opportunities to reconnect the landscape and enhance the natural environment. 

An Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) has been carried out along the entirety of the cable route to assess whether the planned works are likely to give rise to significant effects on the environment. The EIA is informed by several assessments including ecology, flood risk, transport, heritage, landscape and views and ground conditions. The EIA has concluded that significant effects on the environment are not considered likely.

Best practice measures will be implemented through a Construction Environment Management Plan (CEMP), which will be prepared by the contractor and agreed before works commence on the site. This will include avoidance and protection of all areas outside the working area, pollution prevention and suitable site reinstatement.

Wildlife surveys will be conducted throughout the project to check for protected species, including great crested newts, badgers and bats. 

As with all National Grid’s schemes, we are committed to delivering a minimum 10% biodiversity net gain on this cable replacement project. We achieve this by mitigating impacts and including design enhancements that can deliver a range of benefits to people and biodiversity, such as woodland restoration and enhancement, control of non-native species and improving footpath access. 

As there are limited opportunities along the cable route to deliver significant biodiversity net gain, we will be working with local initiatives elsewhere in Sheffield that we can contribute to in order to deliver our minimum 10% biodiversity net gain target.

Why are you doing this? How will it benefit Sheffield?

This project will work towards securing a more resilient, affordable sustainable energy supply for the people of South Yorkshire and beyond. Key benefits for local people are: 

  • Supporting greener and more sustainable technologies
    In addition to meeting the everyday demands of households and businesses, the new cables will be able to support the expected increase in electric vehicle charging points and the demand on the network that will bring.
  • Increased resilience and security of the energy network
    The new cables will use modern technologies, which will provide a more resilient supply of electricity to cope with increased demand both currently and into the future. 
  • Safer
    The new underground cables are unlikely to be damaged by weather as they are protected from strong winds, lightning strikes and falling trees, so less maintenance should be needed and therefore supply should be more reliable.
  • Better for the environment
    One reason National Grid would like to remove the oil-filled cables is because of the risk of leaks. Safely extracting and disposing of the oil from the existing cables will eliminate the chance of oil seeping into the surrounding ground and watercourses in the future. 
  • Better for the area
    A significant benefit of underground cables is the reduction in visual impact as once the installation work is complete, they are out of sight. 
  • Opportunities for the community
    Local opportunities for the project are yet to be confirmed. We will communicate more information when it is available.
How will the local community benefit from these works?

National Grid offers a Community Grant Programme that helps fund projects in communities where we work. More information on the scheme, the criteria and how to apply can be found on our website.

Are there any job opportunities?

Balfour Beatty are the primary contractors for the project. Available jobs and a current view on job/career opportunities can be found on their online careers portal.

How long will the works take? When will they be completed?

Site surveys have begun and are expected to be completed in May 2024. Once these surveys are completed, we will then begin work on the cable route itself, starting with the installation of cable ducts. 

We expect the project to be complete during 2026. We will be carrying out the work in stages to minimise the impact and disruption on people living and working close to the cable routes.

How can I keep up to date with how the works are progressing?

We have a dedicated Sheffield Cable Replacement page on the National Grid website, which will include information about the project. 

You can also contact our community relations team using the following channels: 

Email:[email protected]

Phone: +44 (0)808 175 0206

Freepost: Freepost National Grid SHF Cables

We are holding a public drop-in event for local residents from 3pm – 6:30pm on Thursday 7 March at St Lawrence Church, 247 St Lawrence Road, Tinsley S9 1WG. Please feel free to drop in and find out more about the project, meet some of the team and ask questions.

If I have a question, concern or complaint, who do I contact?

You can contact the team using the following channels:

Email:[email protected]

Phone: +44 (0)808 175 0206

Freepost: Freepost National Grid SHF Cables

Emergency 24/7 site contact: +44 (0)800 121 4444