Exploding pavements are on the rise in London

Video: Westminster Council have released new footage showing the worrying trend of "exploding pavements"

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The Independent Online

The list of hazards to look out for when navigating London's streets just got longer...and more dangerous.

Aside from watching out for lost tourists and absentminded "texters", people in the capital must now be aware of the growing problem of exploding pavements.

This week, Westminster City Council released CCTV footage of a pavement exploding near Piccadilly Circus in July, 2014. The explosion narrowly missed two van drivers who had just passed the spot where the incident occurred.

This is not the first case of an exploding pavement and on Monday, energy representatives from Ofgem and UK Power Networks (UKPN) were questioned by Westminster City Council. The Council spoke with Ofgem Director Maxine Frerk and UKPN Chief Executive Basil Scarsella.

According to the Health and Safety Executive, 64 explosions have been reported so far in 2014 compared to 51 for the whole of last year. There were 32 cases in 2012, thus indicating a steady rise over the past few years.

The explosion seen in the latest video was found to have been caused by an electrical fault in a link box chamber.

Westminster Council said that the explosions can be caused by either a build-up of gas or moisture entering cables and other fittings.

UKPN's Scarsella told the committee that while the age of components was partly at fault, the large amount of rain over the last few years had also been a decisive factor in the rise of exploding pavements.

"We take these events extremely seriously, which is why we have included £80 million of expenditure over the next eight years on link box and cable pit inspections," he said.

Scarsella did say that eliminating exploding pavements altogether was impossible and Ian Adams, the chair of Westminster Council's Environment Policy and Scrutiny Committee, stressed that the "the threat still remains".

Back in May 2012, three women were injured on the corner of Edgware Road and Harrowby Street after a blast from an electrical utilities manhole. One woman had what police described as "life-changing injuries".

Later that year in November, another explosion from under a manhole cover in Shepherd's Bush knocked a woman off her bicycle.