Cable Ploughing | Meet ATP The European Utility Ploughing Specialists

Published 12 Sep 2019

Cable Plough

  • uploaded by Chris Dodds - Sales & Marketing Manager (Thorne & Derrick)
    with kind permission of Ben James - Operations Manager ATP Cable Plough

Cable PloughingCable Ploughing

Electricity, Gas, Water, Telecomms & Railways

ATP are the UK’s leading utility installation contractor to use cable ploughs to install LV MV HV Power & Fibre Cables into underground cable trenches – cable ploughing is a modern trenchless technology delivering fast and efficient laying of cables, pipes and fibre optics with minimal ground damage. The highly skilled and experienced workforce of ATP successfully operate specialist equipment to achieve safe installations of pipes and cables below ground.

This aspect of the Cable Plough’s operation is particularly significant when working in areas of outstanding natural beauty such as National Parks, SSSIs, or areas which are particularly sensitive to ecological and environmental issues. Consequently, it provides designers and specifies an opportunity to soften the impact of schemes when route planning.

Because Cable Plough causes minimal disruption to the ground’s geological structure, it offers a significant reduction in time, money and risk for the client and contractor – cable ploughing also operates very effectively on soft ground and marshland, has the ability to work on almost any terrain and manoeuvre around most obstacles.

Added to this, as it cuts, installs and back-fills the cable trench – all in one operation – the Cable Plough’s method eliminates any risk of trench-collapse and associated health and safety concerns. Ploughing cables provides a huge increase in productivity compared to conventional utility working methods.

National Parks

Environmentally friendly cable ploughing offers a significant reduction in time, money and risk for the client and contractor. Contact ATP to discuss your requirements.

The Benefits of Ploughing Cables


The most significant advantage of the Cable Plough is its low-impact on the environment.

Whilst traditional methods of pipe and cable installation require a sizable trench to be dug and then refilled, the Cable Plough’s efficient way of cutting a narrow slit into the soil causes only minimum disturbance to the land.

For local authorities and planners, the laying of supply lines can pose huge problems, especially when installations pass through protected countryside or areas of outstanding natural beauty.

Initially, ATP will carry out a site survey and report back any issues to the client.

Then, with little or no preparatory work required – such as removing top-soil, extracting large stones or excavation; work can begin.

With only a narrow cut into the ground, there is little damage and therefore no structural changes to the geological formation of the earth. Then, with an almost automatic closure process, it does not take long for the area of land to return to it’s original and natural state.

Cable Plough

Installation of 1x40mm² fibre cable over 2km in one tide. Cable depths installed were 1.5m. Very hard compacted sand ground on UK’s 2nd hottest day on record (24th July). Safe and well executed project with meticulous planning and attention to detail. Operators safety and machine performance with the highest quality standards of installation. The demarcation between plough operation and public safety was well marshalled and coordinated by GPC in their project planning with safety and exclusions well established.

Cable Plough Project | Southport Landfall Fibre Cable Installation by ATP


Whether it is flat, hilly, or undulating terrain, the adaptability of the Cable Plough enables it to cope with almost any surface. It is also capable of operating in wet and adverse areas, such as across marshland, through ditches and even into rivers, provided the water is no more the 1m deep.

The all-round flexibility enables it to plough around or adjacent to a variety of obstacles, such as: rocks, trees, barriers, hedges and walls, by lifting or moving the jibs and positioning the wheels to one side, or around the object.

Because of its agility, the Cable Plough is ideal for carrying out roadside projects, as signs, fences and barriers can easily be negotiated and need not be moved. It can even follow curves in the road to a radius of 4m. Also, because of way the cable plough installs, reinstatement of the ground is easily carried out, so there is less likely-hood of having to hold up traffic, or the need to have staff working on the roadside for lengthy periods of time.

Installation of 20kV (3x630sqmm in trefoil and 1x Ø32 cable duct and cable warning tape over 28km. Depths installed at are 1.8m. Ground conditions were particularly hard in places with clay and sections of deep peat. Duct installation was completed ahead of the civil contractor completing the access roads for the windfarm construction. Reducing sub-contractor interface, pinch points and overall programme of works.


As well as the cost to the environment, the conventional methods of laying pipes and cables can be extremely labour intensive and time consuming. As the Cable Plough cuts into the ground, installs and backfills in one operation, it can cover a far greater distance in a day. In fact, if conditions allow it can work at a speed of up to one kilometre per hour!

Because of the way the Cable Plough operates, it requires less manual input than traditional methods, especially when it comes to reinstatement. It is also capable of carrying three drums of cables or pipes at once – another factor which adds to its efficiency.

Cable Plough is also efficient in the way it makes installations.

The unique design of the combined blade and guidance system means that pipes and cables are laid exactly in accordance to regulations – whatever the speed of travel.

In fact, inspections have proved that pipe and cable installations carried out by the Cable Plough are of better and more uniform quality than that of open trench methods.

11kV Cable Plough

Installation of 1 x 11kV cable into trench and cable warning tapetile over 4km. Cable depths installed were 1.4m. Ground conditions were ideal for ploughing with some areas of flint in remote areas. Hedge crossings and ditches were passed in a number of locations on the route removing the need for HDD offering considerable cost savings to their client. All sites ploughed were reinstated within twenty-four hours to minimise the environmental impact. The project team manoeuvred plant and equipment around site and between sections safely with good coordination with Traffic Management on fast moving A Roads.


Each installation project starts with the power-winch being safely sited ahead of the Cable Plough in an area where it can secure itself by dropping its anchor into the ground. However, in the case of roadside installations, the cable winch is capable of gripping to the asphalt without the need of its anchor.

The Cable Plough is capable of installing everything from a small cable to a SDR11 620mm diameter pipe.

In one operation it can install several cables and/or pipes, plus lightning conductors and warning tapes – this includes high voltage cables, up to 220 kV in the prescribed triangular combination, or two systems with a lateral spacing of 120mm.

The cable laying depth is infinitely adjustable to a depth of 2 metres and, cable or underground pipe installations can be carried out in nearly all ground conditions, such as dry soil, marshland and even soft rock.

The Cable Plough’s operation means that its cutting blade is controlled in such a way that the insertion angle is adjusted to the curvature of the earth. This means that cables and pipes are carefully laid, with no strain or tension.

As the blade cuts through the earth is creates a channel that forms the installation bed.

As the Cable Plough continues forward, the aperture is firmly closed to approximately half its depth and the earth forms a bridge over the cable or pipe. Therefore, the lower part of the cut remains open and is gradually filled by the penetration of silt.

Installation of 3x20kV (630sqmm) cables in trefoil arrangement and 1x Ø40 cable duct (for fibre optics) and warning tape over 4.5km. Cable depths installed were 2.4m in three separate locations in wet winter months of 2018. Ground conditions were particular difficult with dewatering issues and ditch crossings overcome by our client. Safe and well executed project complete with mobilisation and demobilisation from the UK.

Cable Ploughing ApplicationsCable Plough


  • Telecomms
  • Fibre optic – Zero Tension
  • Communication Ducts
  • Copper Cables
  • Roadside & Highways Communication Lines


  • High Voltage Cables up to 132kV
  • Electrical Cable Ducts
  • Lightning Protection & Warning Tape
  • DC Cables & Ducting
  • Sub Sea Cables


  • HDPE Ducts (up to 620mm)

Water & Sewerage

  • HDPE Ducts (up to 620mm)


  • Multiple Cables, Ducts & Warning Tapes
Cable Plough

Cable Plough | ATP providing cable ploughing technology to Spui Windpark, owned by Japanese renewables developer Eurus Energy Group, is located in the municipality of Hoeksche Waard in southern Holland. The wind farm consists of five Enercon E-126 EP4 wind turbines, each with a rated power of 4.2MW, hub heights of 135 metres and rotor diameters of 127 metres.

Get In TouchContact Us About Cable Ploughing

Contact ATP

  • Jason Thomas (+44) 07969 225476 (Managing Director)
  • Ben James (+44) 07557 516273 (Operations Manager)
  • Visit
  • Email


Thorne & Derrick are national distributors of LV, MV & HV Cable Installation, Jointing, Substation & Electrical Equipment – servicing businesses involved in cabling, jointing, substation, earthing, overhead line and electrical construction at LV, 11kV, 33kV, 66kV and EHV. Supplying a complete range of power cable accessories to support the installation and maintenance of low/medium and high voltage voltage power systems:

  • Slip-on Cable Terminations
  • Cold-shrink Cable Terminations
  • Heat-shrink Cable Terminations
  • Cable Joints – Heat & Cold-shrink
  • Separable Connectors (Euromold)
  • Surge Arresters & Switchgear/Transformer Bushings

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