Work on the first of five micro-tunnels, 27 metres below Preston in Lancashire, got underway to kick-off a scheme aimed at stopping wastewater getting into the River Ribble.

As well as the tunnels eight deep shafts are also going to be dug so the tunnels can be built.

The tunnels and shafts will create an extra 40,500 cubic metres of storm water storage for the city which according to United Utilities, the firm behind the work, is the equivalent of 16 Olympic size swimming pools.

Eventually, all five micro tunnels will connect to the already built 3.5 km long storm storage tunnel between the Preston and Penwortham.

United Utilities’ principal project manager, Brian Edwards, said: “The project has been planned to help the river and the Fylde coast comply with European legislation.

“Once complete, improvements should be seen to river quality and shellfish waters along the estuary and to beaches at Southport, Ainsdale, St Annes and Blackpool.”

During a storm the new tunnel will transport flows to the new pumping station in Penwortham, this is designed to pass up to a maximum flow of 1500 litres a second to the wastewater treatment works at Clifton Marsh.

Luke Walsh

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