London mayor unveils £1.5bn green recovery package for utilities

Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, has announced a partnership with utility companies to invest £1.5 billion in London’s infrastructure to create jobs and help the capital’s economic recovery following the pandemic.

Cadent, SSEN, SGN, UK Power Networks and Thames Water are working with the mayor’s office and London’s local authorities to identify schemes and accelerate future investment.

Through the partnership the London Recovery Board – co-chaired by councillor Peter John and Khan to coordinate planning for London’s post-coronavirus future – the office will progress projects to support the green recovery and jobs. Khan has committed to building back better with a recovery scheme designed to generate jobs and create a “fairer, more equal, greener and resilient city”.

Khan said: “It is essential that infrastructure initiatives are utilised to serve all Londoners as we work to recover from this pandemic and to build back better with a fairer and greener economy.

“By working together with the major utility companies to progress and bring forward these projects, we have a valuable opportunity to improve the diversity of the sector and to help create new jobs for those who have been disproportionately impacted by Covid-19.”

Potential work includes:

  • Upgrading the gas network to improve the security of supplies.
  • Reducing water leakage by 20 per cent and pollution incidents 30 per cent by 2025.
  • Increasing the resilience of water supplies in north east London, the City and Canary Wharf.
  • Rolling out electric vehicle charging infrastructure, using innovative planning tools to identify the best locations.

The London Recovery Board will work with the utility companies, government and regulators to ensure the approved projects provide value for money and affordability for billpayers and taxpayers.

In addition, the board has committed to support utility companies in identifying employment opportunities, especially for young people and Londoners from minority backgrounds who have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic.

“Cadent is playing an instrumental part in London’s economic recovery, annually investing in upgrading our gas network which helps ensure the capital enjoys the world class infrastructure which enables it to be a leading global business hub,” said Cadent’s director of its London network, James Harrison.

“The recovery will also be aided by work we continued and in some cases brought forward during lockdown in usually very busy areas, which has spared London’s economy the costly disruption there could have been had work been done during normal times.”

Ian Marchant, interim executive chairman at Thames Water, said: “As we embark on an ambitious programme to invest £1 billion over the next two years to improve the water and wastewater services Londoners rely on, it is a real boost to have the backing of the London Recovery Board.

“It is also great news for the economy, because delivering our plans will support our diverse workforce and supply chain, which we’ve continued to grow during the pandemic, recruiting more than 250 staff since March.”