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Powering up Belfast

Northern Christchurch, Belfast

Orion has commenced a major project to increase the capacity and resilience of the power network to support future growth in northern Christchurch.

We’re laying a new underground, 66kV cable which connects a new substation under construction on Blakes Road, Belfast, with our existing Marshlands Zone substation in Prestons Road, Marshlands.

We’ve engaged Isaac Civil Construction to carry out the work.

What are we doing?MarBel Update 6

Work started in mid-February 2021 and will continue until early 2022.

To install the new 4.1-kilometre cable, we’re trenching in the roadway along Prestons, Marshland, Belfast and Blakes Roads.

We’re doing the work in sections, digging a trench between a series of cable joint bays, installing reinforced concrete at the bottom of the trench then installing the new cable. The cable is then encased in thermal concrete before the trench is backfilled and the road surface repaired.

For more information, call our Customer Support team on 0800 363 9898, day or night.

Please click here to sign up for regular email updates and information about the cable installation.

Power Supply

There will be no disruption to your power supply throughout this work.

Traffic Management

As we are laying the new 66kV cable in the road we need to have traffic management in place to enable us to do our work safely.

Both Belfast Road and Blakes Road are too narrow for us to maintain two-way traffic next to our work site. To allow us to do our work safely, the following traffic management measures will be in place:

  • Two-way traffic maintained on Belfast Road (between Blakes Road and the motorway on-ramp) using temporary traffic lights.
  • Road closure on Blakes Road, between Belfast Road and Silver Fern Farms.
  • No entry for northbound traffic on Blakes Road between Frank Coxon Road and Belfast Road. A detour route will be in place via Frank Coxon Road and Seven Mile Drive.
  • Restricted access on Guthries Road. Guthries Road is closed to northbound traffic.

Property access and parking

During the day, access to properties on the side of the road where we are working will be temporarily restricted while we trench past. We will place metal sheets over the trench, so you can access your property. The Isaac team will keep in contact with you so you can move your vehicles if needed.

There will be no street parking available on the side of the road where we are working. Please put your bins out as usual before 6am on your collection day. The Issac team will move and return them if needed. 

Marshlands sucker truck

Marshlands Road 
We’re working closely with the teams building the new Styx Mill Bridge. As a result, we hope to be able to install our cable across the new bridge sooner than anticipated.

We're having some issues with groundwater and a sucker truck arrives each morning to remove water from the trench before we start digging, and then again before our concrete truck arrives in the afternoon.

Prestons Road

The new 66kV cable will be laid on the north side of Prestons Road from Marshland Road to the substation. This will require a temporary one-way system for westbound traffic on Prestons Road and detours will be in place.

We know this will be inconvenient for residents and we’re talking to the Prestons Park developer to see if an additional entrance to this subdivision might be possible. We’ve shuffled around our plan of work to delay starting on Prestons Road to provide for this, if it can happen.

Dates for starting work on Prestons Road will be updated once we know the outcome of these discussions.

What you have told us

Many people have taken the time to let us know how our work is affecting their daily travel round the area. We appreciate how disruptive the project is, and have made a number of changes to ease the pressure where we can. These include: 

  • Changing our one-way system on Belfast Road to provide access from Belfast to the motorway on-ramp.

  • Doing additional inspection work along Prestons Road. This helped us understand where all the possible challenges are when trenching between the Marshland substation and our first joint bay, and helped us to further define our programme of work on Prestons Road.
  • Juggling our programme of work to reduce the time for the planned one-way system on Prestons Road to eight weeks, down from the original three months.
  • Delaying our start date on Prestons Road until June, to give time to consider options for alternative access to Prestons Park.
  • Expanding our planned Work Notice delivery area for the Prestons Road work to include all of Prestons, Prestons Park, Waitikiri and The Limes subdivisions. This will ensure more of those impacted are aware of what’s happening.

Residents have also let us know that the restricted access to Guthries Road is making their daily travel longer and more difficult, and we apologise for this. The restricted access is needed to avoid traffic travelling from Belfast using Guthries Road as an alternative route to Marshland Road, while the traffic management is in place on Belfast Road.  Guthries Road is a narrow residential road and diverting a lot of traffic along it would cause significant queuing at the Marshland Road intersection and this is not a safe option.   Works are going well on Belfast Road and we aim to finish here in early June.  We will then be able to re-open Guthries Road.

Cable Drum

Interesting stuff

Cable installation

The 66kv cable install involves three cables in each trench. Each cable is 100mm in diameter and weighs 15.4kg per metre. There will be a total of three x 4.1kms of cable laid between the new substation on Blakes Road and the substation on Prestons Road.

The cable arrives to site on a large drum. The drums are loaded into position using a crane. You might see security people on site at night and on the weekend while the cable is being delivered and laid. This is to make sure the cable isn’t damaged.

Each of the cables takes about two hours to lay. The cable is pulled from the cable drum at one joint bay along the trench via a winch at the next joint bay.

Cables passing through ductsThe cable slowly moves across temporary rollers at the bottom of the trench and there are crew working in the trench to make sure the cable moves smoothly.

Where the cable moves through a duct, for example under the Marshland-Belfast Road intersection, the crew apply a lubricant to help it move smoothly.

Once the cable is laid, it is encased in thermal concrete for protection. Once both sections of cable are laid at a joint bay, the two sections are joined together.

We’re making good progress with the project. At the end of March, we laid our first cables down a section of Marshland Road outside approximately 448 – 518 Marshland Road (between Joint Bays 1 and 2).

In mid-April, we laid cables along a section of Belfast Road from the intersection with Marshland Road to outside approximately 187 Belfast Road (between Joint Bays 3 and 4).

MarBel Trenching 30Our next planned cable lay is along Belfast Road (between Joints Bay 4 and 5) in mid-May.

Project Details

Work Notices
210422 Guthries Road Update
210413 Blakes Road Traffic Impact
210330 Belfast 66kV udpate

Past notices:
210330 Blakes Road Traffic Impact
210301 Prestons night work
210225 Belfast 66kv start Work Notice


  • Jan 2021 – early 2022
  • New Belfast Zone substation in Blakes Road
  • 4.1 kilometres of 66kV cable


  • Increased resilience
  • Increased capacity
  • Increased reliability of supply