Specifying Fencing For Utilities

Utilities are organisations that supply communities with electricity, gas, water, telecommunications, water or sewerage removal, and come under the larger 'National Infrastructure' umbrella, as they are essential for a country to function, and upon which daily life depends.

Protecting the buildings, infrastructure, people and information that support these services from hostile and malicious attacks is critical to ensuring homes and businesses can continue to run safely and effectively.

Threats to these sites have increased over the years, with historical sites and outdated security systems requiring refurbishment to protect against theft, crime, arson, natural disasters and terrorism related incidents.

Specifying for water treatment plants

The UK relies on a complex system to supply water to homes and businesses across the country and to safely remove and treat wastewater. Water facilities provide arguably the most critical services, and disruption to these would be catastrophic.

Water facilities operate 24/7 and require reliable fencing solutions that will provide security around the clock. Commonly specified solutions include a strong close-knit mesh such as Securi-Mesh®, which offers high visibility, tamper-proof fixings, and protection from climbing. Security toppings such as barbed wire and fence spikes are also generally added to offer additional height and protection. Trident® Securi-Mesh® is based on the same design but has been specifically created and certified by the NPSA (formerly CPNI) for utilities, and still comes with our 25 year guarantee, making it ideal for water treatment plants.

Access control

A specification for perimeter security at a utility site should consider access control, whether existing solutions require replacing or enhancing with additional measures, or completely new gates. Consider who will be accessing the site and make sure there are suitable entrances for both vehicles and pedestrians if necessary. A multi-layered access control solution is recommended for busier sites to make up the 'delay' and 'detect' parts of the strategy, and could be made up of rising bollards, traffic arm barriers and gates. Ideally, PAS 68 crash-rated speed gates should be specified, along with crash-rated bollards or road blockers. Each will provide an additional line of security to cross before entering the site, enabling sites to slow down potential intruders and perform relevant checks within the air-lock.

Protecting energy supplies

Power is generated in a number of different ways which is important to ensure we have a constant supply and are not overly reliant on one type of fuel source. In the UK, our power comes from fossil fuels (coal and gas power stations), nuclear reactors, renewable energy and imported energy. A loss of power to the UK would dramatically affect economic function, so the security standards around these systems are strict under NPSA. Each type of energy supply has different challenges which need to be considered when specifying security solutions. With sites hosting dangerous machinery and equipment, security and warning signs are required at a lower level to ensure public safety and deter against crime, while on a higher level larger sites require more complex security systems that protect against attacks but allow quick access to authorised personnel. Facilities must actively monitor and respond to theft, unauthorised intrusions, safety events, access to sensitive information, and potential terrorist activities.

It is not only the sites that need thought but also the infrastructure that joins the sites, whether securing transmission towers or pylons. With conspiracy theories resulting in over 70 phone masts in the UK being set alight and vandalised in 2020, tougher security should be specified around these sites to help deny access and prevent costly clear-up operations. Damage to these sites puts lives at risk, disrupts vital communications networks, and puts pressure on emergency services who have to attend the site to secure it and in some cases evacuate nearby residents. Steel palisade fencing is a common choice for these areas, but offers little in the way of protection, we explain more about the alternatives here.

Noise control

Generators, substations and power supplies that are in close proximity to residential areas can often cause complaint due to their unsightly appearance and increased noise levels, usually an audible continuous humming. Acoustic barriers are an ideal all-round solution that provides noise reduction and an attractive timber facade that covers the object and is extremely difficult to climb. Trident® Jakoustic® 3 is a high security acoustic barrier that comprises of interlocking V boards with a layer of steel mesh for increased protection, and is CPNI approved at the tested height.

Non-conductive GRP fencing

Glass Reinforced Plastic (GRP) fencing has non-conductive properties, making it a highly effective alternative to metal fencing when used to secure electrical equipment and supplies and other areas that need a non-magnetic system that is transparent to radio wave frequencies. Available in mesh and vertical bar designs, it offers a strong solution for utilities.

Access control for power plants

Access control for power plants involves limiting those who are able to access equipment to the bare minimum, and prevent people from bringing prohibited items that can interfere with operations. Speed gates are ideal for securing a site and providing quick access, while options for controlling on-site movement once inside could include traffic arm barriers with security officers, and gates.

Adjacent properties

Utilities such as water treatment plants often contain open bodies of water and reservoirs, which must be kept clear of foreign objects to reduce contamination and increase safety of those working at the site. This is particularly important for sites near schools, parks, and recreation grounds where there is a risk of balls and sports equipment going over the fence into the water. We provided a bespoke solution for the shared boundary of a water treatment plant and recreation ground, find out more here.

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