Discuss What is bebeath this "stopcock" hatch? in the General DIY Plumbing Forum area at Plumbers Forums

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Just in front of my house is this iron cover with "stopcock" on it (see attached photo)

However, when I lift the lid and look inside there is apparently not a stopcock, but some sort of a vertical metal structure with a cable attached to it. Can anyone tell me what it is? The void was partially filled with sand, most of which I have scooped out. Is the sand supposed to be there, or did it just get washed in from the garden?

I am asking because I am contemplating siting and air source heat pump nearby. Would this feature be an impediment?
 

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