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LSBUD Response to NUAR Launch




This statement is in response to the launch of the National Underground Asset Register (NUAR) on 5th April 2023.

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At LSBUD, we have a key purpose that will seem familiar to anyone that has engaged with us or attended one of our presentations:

To reduce the risk of deaths, injuries, damage and disruption caused by asset strikes.

We therefore welcome the promotion of safe digging around utilities where it can help improve the understanding of the causes of asset strikes and how best to reduce the risk of them.  We are proud to play our part protecting the nation’s most strategically important assets, including our clients’ critical national infrastructure.

The Geospatial Commission announced on 5th April 2023 that it was launching NUAR.  NUAR is a taxpayer funded project which is available to a limited group of (approximately 70-80) asset owners in certain geographical areas.

The concept is labelled as an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) but there are promises that it will continue to develop.  Future development, as with any project, is uncertain, so we can only report on the current state of the project as we understand it.

We wanted to make the LSBUD community aware of the project, to reinforce the importance of continuing to use LSBUD in the usual way to maintain a safe working environment around our Members’ assets.

Below are 4 key areas that we believe are fundamental to help each and every team (and individual) in the country dig safely:

  • Access to safe digging information for all

We believe that everyone who is putting a spade in the ground should have access to data that helps them work more safely. LSBUD is available to everyone whilst NUAR is only available to a very limited number of asset owners and connected parties.

  • Keeping you and your teams safe through engagement with the asset owners

The safe digging search process should be a data exchange where the User provides key details to allow the Member (asset owner) to assess the likely risk around their network and responds accordingly. 

LSBUD’s processes have evolved over decades, allowing appropriate escalations and support from the Members’ Plant Protection Teams to help keep you., your teams and the wider community safe. Many Users may not realise that LSBUD has a complex risk assessment basis (which is why we ask for certain details about your works). 

NUAR is a viewing platform with no connection with the Members’ internal systems to facilitate these essential escalations.

  • Data currency

When searching for safe digging information, it should be the most current data available.
LSBUD matches our Members’ update schedules so they are accessing the most up to date data (daily updates for several Members); it is not clear what frequency NUAR will refresh the data on.

  • Cost

We believe that access to data for safe digging should be free to the user.
Access to LSBUD is free for all and our Members allow free access to their asset data for safe digging purposes.
Participation and use of NUAR is currently free for those involved but when the taxpayer funding runs out, there is no certainty about cost, other than industry will pay, and that the tens of millions of cost already incurred needs to be recouped.

In summary, there is no change for any LSBUD user.  Even those that do have access to NUAR have that access under the proviso that it is “intended to complement current business practices”.

The NUAR project has the ability to increase awareness of safe digging and thus increase enquiries made to our Members through LSBUD- similar to the effect we have seen in recent years in Scotland by the introduction of the VAULT system.

We are proud and pleased that the LSBUD community remains as resolute as ever, as indicated by every statistic available to us including:

  • New Members joining in recent months such as Northern Gas Networks, together with equally high profile networks in both the setup phase and in contractual discussions.
  • Existing Members agreeing significant fixed term extensions, cementing their loyalty to the LSBUD community.
  • Record enquiry volumes– not just for 2022 as a year but also shown in the highest ever month in March 2023.
  • New Users growing at an incredible rate, with over 4000 new users in March 2023.

We remain open to collaboration and engagement to continue making the UK a safer place to dig.  Thank you to you all across the LSBUD community for your support.

The LSBUD Team

06 April 2023