Utilities Pipes

Fisher German’s utilities experts say that innovation and the ability to adapt will ensure the industry can continue to deliver services during the coronavirus pandemic, despite teams working from home in line with government guidelines.

In our utilities teams a number of colleagues are designated key workers for the critical services we provide across the UK, while those working from home are developing their skills and evolving their approach to continue servicing the needs of clients. A pioneering attitude – in line with our core values – is proving key to ensuring that services can continue during the unprecedented times.

Partner Seb Kingsley is delivering large projects with utilities and infrastructure teams from the firm’s Ashby, Doncaster, Knutsford and Banbury offices, who are all working from home.

He said: “The lockdown from this pandemic has brought about a new wave of innovation to delivering outstanding service in these uncertain times. From simply using Microsoft Teams to meet with people from lots of organisations around the country at the same time, to specialist datasets for us to appraise sites remotely and understand what we can’t currently see with our eyes.

“Usually we would have surveyors visiting properties around the country that are affected by overhead power lines to value them and assess the impact of the apparatus on this value. Despite having to temporarily stop these visits during the coronavirus pandemic, we are adapting our approach to continue to service the needs of our clients and maintain the relationship with their customers.

“Pausing completely would create a tidal wave of work for both ourselves and our clients, so we are using other resources to ensure we can continue. There are a number of technologies available which enable us to find evidence and research each property without being able to physically see them, and these are essential tools in the current climate.

“As an industry we need to adapt to the ever-changing situation, being flexible in our methodology and processes. Many of these changes will become embedded in the way we work going forward, becoming the new ‘normal’.”

Partner Sarah DeRenzy-Tomson, who leads the utilities and sustainable energy planning team, added: “As a team of specialist utilities town planners, we quickly adapted to the changing working environment. We continue to draft and submit planning applications, liaise with project managers and designers, and monitor applications already lodged with local councils.

“While working from home we have successfully presented at a virtual planning committee, discharged conditions to enable the commencement of an oil pipeline diversion required for an ageing asset, submitted applications for new development at a water treatment works and an application for odour control equipment at a sewage works.

“To assist local authority planners at this challenging time, we are including more photographs within our planning application submissions to assist their understanding of the sites in times where travel is restricted. We are also liaising with clients about future schemes now, looking at land and planning so that clients can hit the ground running when the restrictions are lifted.”

To find out more about how our teams are adapting to working while in lockdown, follow us on Twitter @FisherGerman.