John Redwood welcomes measures to reduce the disruption of future water mains renewals by South East Water

John Redwood has welcomed news that South East Water is now exploring a number of alternative methods for use in relation to future water mains renewal works in Wokingham. Following the significant disruption caused after continued road closures took place earlier this month in Finchampstead Road and Easthampstead Road/Heathlands Road, John wrote to South East Water to raise his concerns about the long delays caused by such works.

South East Water responded by saying that while a number of constraints often make highway work necessary, they are now exploring the possibility of laying part of the new main pipe from the Easthampstead and Heathlands scheme in adjacent fields, instead of under the main road.

In addition, they hope to use directional drilling – a trenchless method of construction – to minimise the scale of future disruption. This method only requires an access and exit pit for the insertion of water pipes, as opposed to the traditionally extensive excavation often associated with similar renewal works.


  1. Rich
    September 16, 2010

    Why don't South East Water hire out of work American crews? On busy Monroe Street in Chicago they just replaced a block-long length of water main in five days. In the UK that five days would have been spread over four months. The reason the Americans can add 2 extra lanes to 20 miles of motorway in under 12 months, while the Brits take 4 years to do the same work, is just down to incompetent management and bone-idle workers.

  2. Matt
    September 16, 2010

    I notice that SEW are planning to close Easthampstead Road and Heathlands Road – apparently from October to March.

    September 17, 2010

    How interesting. I wonder if you've struck on a solution that's practical for other areas? Sounds like civility and common sense might have won the day on your patch at least. Nice one.

  4. James Sutherland
    September 26, 2010

    I would welcome changes to force utility maintenance work to be completed at a sensible pace; for over two months now I have been watching the same construction company intermittently digging and abandoning holes in the road at both my workplace (under contract for the electricity distributor) and home (a contract for Transco for gas mains). The "work" in my own street is particularly irritating and disruptive: they have essentially taken over half the street as their own storage area, depriving us of already scarce parking, rather than bother bringing the materials they need when they need them. I have seen holes dug, then left untouched for weeks at a time surrounded by barriers, presumably because the company is under no pressure to remove the obstruction they have installed any time soon.

    Ideally, I think we need utility companies to pay a substantial daily rental fee to the local council or some central fund for every day, or part thereof, in which their works are disrupting traffic and depriving us of the use of the roads we all pay for. Set at an appropriate level, this would deter them from simply fencing off part of a street as free storage – it would no longer be free – and give them a big incentive to complete on a shorter timescale.

    As I recall, on public works contracts in the US the contracts already have substantial incentive and penalty sums associated, which is why work there is done quickly, often working round the clock to complete on a shorter timescale – a far cry from digging here, where excavated sections of road are untouched even during the day since the company has no reason to hurry or to minimise the disruption they cause to the public!

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