Five years of tunnelling needed to fix issues with water in Greater Manchester

The massive Haweswater Aqueduct Resilience Programme (HARP), involves the replacement of six underground tunnel sections of the 110 kilometre Haweswater Aqueduct that brings fresh water from the Lake District to Bury.

A huge engineering and tunnelling project has been approved which aims to ensure better water supply to Bury for generations. The massive Haweswater Aqueduct Resilience Programme (HARP), involves the replacement of six underground tunnel sections of the 110 kilometre Haweswater Aqueduct that brings fresh water from the Lake District to Bury.

The aqueduct carries water from the Haweswater reservoir to a water treatment works near Kendal and then southwards to Bury. Bury’s planning committee have approved works in Bury to form part of the Haslingden and Walmersley Section of the aqueduct.

Work on the project is expected to start in around three years. The section to Walmersley is one of five new tunnel sections totalling a length of 53 km across seven different planning authorities. Each tunnel section needs a drive shaft compound and reception shaft compound.

A map showing the Huncoat to Walmersley section of the water pipeline

The pipeline tunnels will be around 3.5 metres in diameter. The ‘end of line’ compound will be built at Woodgate Hill, Bury.

Boring machines will cut through the earth and rock and spoil will be removed from behind the tunnelling machine and will be extracted in Rossendale at another site. Applicant United utilities outlined the need for improved water tunnels.

The report put before councillors, said: “The existing Haweswater Aqueduct became operational in the 1950s.

“Inspections uncovered areas of concern in the single line sections of the aqueduct.

“It is anticipated that the condition of these sections will continue to deteriorate and would impact upon water supplies. United Utilities is required to supply drinking water that is safe and of a quality acceptable to customers.”

The preferred option to replace all the tunnel sections was approved by the government in 2019. The line of the tunnel within Bury extends from Rochdale Road near to the village of Turn on the boundary with Rossendale.

The tunnel then meanders around the route resulting in three short lengths within Bury borough. The pipeline then passes back into Bury at Walmersley Golf Club and to the east of the M66 motorway, and then runs in parallel with the M66 until it reaches the Woodgate Hill site.

The Woodgate Hill compound will be built off Castle Hill Road, to the east of the M66. It is expected to be in place for five years with an estimated start date of 2025. In Bury, the development will provide 2.6 kilometres of replacement pipeline and would then connect to the existing infrastructure.

Once the new pipelines have been tested and are operational the old tunnels will be decommissioned. Councillors at the meeting approved the plans.