MILLIONS of customers throughout the UK will get their gas delivered in future via a £117m tunnel under the River Humber.
The current pipeline which lies in an excavated trench under the Humber became exposed a few years ago because of riverbed erosion.
In 2010 National Grid laid gravel-filled bags with concrete “frond mattresses” over the exposed parts but now wants a long-term replacement for what is a vital part of the country’s infrastructure.
The new pipeline will be run through a three-mile tunnel on a similar route to the existing one, which starts near Paull, on the north bank, and comes out at Goxhill, feeding into the national distribution network suppling homes in the Midlands and south of the country.
Tunnelling under the river is a more expensive option, but National Grid believes it will have the least impact on the environment.
Paul Lee, senior engineer at National Grid said: “We recognise the importance of the River Humber and have taken great care to listen to local people and consider any potential effects on the environment and communities. A new pipeline in a tunnel beneath the Humber presents the least potential for disruption to local communities and the environment in and around the Humber. It would also cause minimal disruption to shipping and other commercial operations.”
It was also the most popular option to emerge from consultations in 2012 in East Halton, Goxhill and Paull.
Further consultation will take place this Autumn, with an application being submitted to the Planning Inspectorate next year. Construction would begin in 2017, with the project taking four years to complete.
The work will involve sinking a shaft up to 30m deep on either side of the river, and using a tunnel-boring machine, which can work its way through anything from sand to rock. The tunnel will be lined with concrete segments as it is dug and the pipeline then pulled through the tunnel in “strings” - long welded sections of pipe put together on one side of the river. The pipeline carries gas from Easington, which is supplied from Norway and natural gas fields off the East Coast. It can carry the equivalent of 20 per cent of the UK’s demand.