The National Underground Asset Register (NUAR) is now accessible across England and Wales and is on course to grow the UK’s economy by £5bn over the next decade, according to the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSINT).

Launched by DSINT and the Geospatial Commission and delivered by AtkinsRéalis, NUAR is a digital map of underground assets including broadband cables, gas pipes, water pipes and other infrastructure. While there are already similar offerings such as LSBUD, the government says that NUAR will “revolutionise the way we install, maintain, operate and repair the pipes and cables buried beneath our feet, growing our economy and reducing disruption to the public”.

Earlier this year, the team behind NUAR gave NCE insight into the technology’s development and potential benefits.

Last week saw the expansion of NUAR into the South East, South West, North West, Yorkshire and The Humber and East of England. It will become fully operational across the UK by 2025.

Asset owners that have allowed NUAR to utilise their infrastructure data include all the major energy and water providers and several major telecommunications companies. Smaller providers of these services have also contributed their data.

The government estimates that NUAR will deliver £490M in annual economic growth, which will deliver circa £5bn over a decade. This is due to increased efficiencies in construction and development that mean there will be less accidental damage to pipes and cables, while the public and businesses will benefit from reduced disruption from extended road closures.

A Freedom of Information request submitted by NCE revealed that £14.9M was spent developing NUAR in financial years 2021-22 and 2022-23. This includes £8.75M for service development, £5.3M for asset owner onboarding and £850,000 for policy and programme delivery.

The Geospatial Commission, via the Cabinet Office, signed a deal with AtkinsRéalis for the delivery of NUAR worth £23M between 2021 and 2024.

Last week also saw measures tabled in Parliament to update existing legislation, taking advantage of opportunities provided by data and technology advancements, to simplify and expedite the process by which this kind of asset data is shared.

If passed, these updates will give workers near instantaneous access to comprehensive and standardised data when they need it. “Legislative reforms being sought would also ensure a sustainable service through fair and reasonable charges to asset owners,” according to the government.

Parliamentary under secretary of state for DSINT Viscount Camrose said: “The National Underground Asset Register is on track to transform how the UK manages the pipes and cables beneath the ground. Thanks to government working closely with industry, workers across the whole of England and Wales now have data, at their fingertips, about the infrastructure under our feet.

“The Register is a prime example of the Geospatial Commission and wider government driving innovation that will deliver improved public services, create new better-paid jobs and grow the economy, and I’m delighted that legislative updates are being progressed to support this.”

Geospatial Commission independent commissioner Alexandra Notay said: “It is fantastic to see the progress being made on delivering the core ‘safe dig’ use case that NUAR is intended to meet, and I am very proud of the team at the Geospatial Commission for delivering this collaborative project for and with a wide range of industry stakeholders. The supportive statements from users in the project update is a testament to the value that NUAR is already bringing to those who manage our underground assets.

“However, I am particularly excited to see work commence on exploring the potential benefits that NUAR could bring to other users, especially in the property sector. I believe that NUAR could enable huge amounts of innovation in construction, development and operations across the real estate spectrum – supporting better decisions being made more quickly.”

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