Underground mapping specialist PipeHawk has been boosted by Ofcom’s decision to licence the use of ground probing radar (GPR) technology, the company told its shareholders.

The UK telecoms regulator’s new rules make unlicensed use of GPR equipment illegal, and Ofcom awarded its first two licences to PipeHawk and its Adien subsidiary.

Ofcom’s move was one of a number of positives flagged up by PipeHawk as it unveiled its first profit since floating on the stock exchange in 2000.

The company develops GPR technology for a range of applications, such as locating and mapping utility pipes buries beneath streets.

PipeHawk made £141,000 in the year to June compared with a loss of almost £300,000 in the previous 12 months. Sales more than doubled to £3.3m.

PipeHawk told investors that the upturn was partly thanks to the contribution of QM Systems, the test engineering specialist bought by the group in March which is working with Lockheed Martin and Smiths Aerospace on the JSF programme.

According to PipeHawk its core business of underground mapping is gaining ground among planning authorities and contractors, where it is seen as beneficial for operational and safety reasons.

PipeHawk also has a long-running programme to develop a landmine detection system based on GPR. The company has applied to the EU for a grant to fund its MineHawk vehicle project, and hopes for the go-ahead during the current financial year.