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Stay safe and dial before you dig, says star of Ground Force Tommy Walsh

28 August 2020


With some areas seeing a 20% increase in damage to hidden cables and pipes since lockdown eased, star of TV’s Ground Force Tommy Walsh is spearheading a campaign to encourage people to stay safe with their DIY plans this bank holiday weekend and dial before you dig.

Parts of the country have seen a 20% increase in damage to the cables and pipes that make up our energy networks since lockdown eased, as builders get back to work following lockdown and homeowners look to do work on their properties through small construction works like fencing, driveway installations and other DIY projects – leading to a significant safety risk to the public, warns Energy Networks Association.

Bank holidays give people the chance to relax and for DIY enthusiasts to carry out work on their homes and gardens. However, it is vital that people stay safe by making sure that they are aware of any potential underground cables or gas pipes before they carry out any work that involves breaking ground.

Ground Force star and DIY expert Tommy Walsh said:

“Whether you’re doing DIY work at home or in the garden or if you’re a construction worker returning back to work following the lockdown, it is absolutely essential that you know what’s underneath before you break ground.

“The energy network includes thousands of miles of underground gas pipes and power cables, so it is vital for everyone who is undertaking excavation work plans their project safely. Stay safe and if you need any further information then contact your local network company before you begin the job. Dial before you dig!”

David Smith, Chief Executive of Energy Networks Association, which represents the UK and Ireland’s energy networks businesses, said:

“It’s so important for everyone to stay safe over the bank holiday weekend. Follow the simple advice, stay safe and dial before you dig.

“This is a very serious safety message and I encourage everyone who may be carrying out work that requires excavation to plan their work safely and help us to keep your energy flowing.”

Energy Networks Association has advice for people to help them work safely:

  • Be aware of the location of underground utility equipment before digging or excavating.
  • Request location details and plans from utility companies well in advance of work starting. Remember that these are a guide only – you are responsible for confirming the exact location of all equipment and avoiding damage.
  • Use a cable avoidance tool to identify the presence of buried cables before you start to dig. Rescan the area as your work progresses.
  • Hand dig — use safe digging techniques to dig trial holes to establish the line and depth of underground utility equipment.
  • Always assume underground cables are live and gas pipes are pressurised. If they appear to be damaged do not approach them and contact your local electricity network operator using 105 for GB (or 03457 643 643 in Northern Ireland) or 0800 111 999 for the GB National Gas Emergency Number (or 0800 002 001 in Northern Ireland).
  • Take care when lowering the ground levels as there may be underground cables in the area.
  • If you damage an underground electricity cable, vacate the excavation immediately, phone your electricity network operator’s emergency number and keep everybody clear.

Press contacts for journalists

Peter Kocen

Senior Press and Public Affairs Manager

+44 (0)7792 220 974

ENA Press Office


Notes to editor

Ground Force

Ground Force was a garden makeover television series originally broadcast by the BBC between 1997 and 2005. The series was originally hosted by Alan Titchmarsh, Charlie Dimmock and Tommy Walsh.

About Tommy

Tommy Walsh is best known as TV’s leading DIY expert.

After leaving school and working for his father, Tommy started his own small building business in East London, which specialised in hard landscaping – the part of creating gardens which doesn’t involve the planting.

Tommy Walsh met the executive producer of Ground Force, while he was engaged in building work on her house.

She asked his opinion on various TV pilots, including a new gardening challenge show, and his comments were perceptive and pertinent.

She invited him to take part in a screen test with Charlie Dimmock and they both joined Ground Force.  Since that day Tommy Walsh has gone from strength to strength filming 11 series of Ground Force.

Ground Force was also filmed in America by BBC America featuring Charlie and Tommy.

About Energy Networks Association

Energy Networks Association (ENA) is the industry body representing the electricity wires, gas pipes and energy system in the UK and Ireland.

ENA helps its members meet the challenge of delivering electricity and gas to communities across the UK and Ireland safely, sustainably and reliably.

Its members include every major electricity and gas network operator in the UK and Ireland, independent operators, National Grid ESO which operates the electricity system in Great Britain and National Gas which operates the gas system in Great Britain. Its affiliate membership also includes companies with an interest in energy, including Heathrow Airport and Network Rail.

What are energy network operators?

Energy network operators manage and maintain the wires, pipes and other infrastructure which delivers electricity and gas to your home, business and community. They are private companies which are regulated by Ofgem and employ around 40,000 people in Great Britain.

More information