Royal approval from Princess Anne for pipeline being tunnelled under the River Humber

By Scunthorpe Telegraph | Posted: 2 Apr 2019

An ambitious engineering project which will see a gas pipeline laid beneath the River Humber has received the royal seal of approval from Princess Anne.

She visited the National Grid site near Goxhill where the 5km tunnel is currently two-thirds of the way to completion.

When operational next year, the crucial pipeline will carry around a fifth of Britain's gas beneath the Humber.

Princess Anne receives a tour of the Humber Pipeline project

The Princess Royal was greeted by schoolchildren waving flags and was shown around the ongoing project, along with mayor of North Lincolnshire Councillor John Briggs.

Project director Steve Ellison said: "Her Royal Highness seemed very impressed by the scale of the engineering works and the ambition of what we're trying to do. It's only when you see it that you start to comprehend how big it is.

"It's a massive privilege to have Her Royal Highness here, as she obviously recognises this is a crucial project for the country's energy supply and also an incredible feat of engineering."

Princess Anne viewing the 5km of pipe that will be used to carry gas beneath the Humber (Image: National Grid)

The gas pipeline will be a replacement for a current line which is at risk of erosion on the bed on the Humber. The new pipeline will run under the river from Goxhill on the south bank to Paull on the north bank.

Work began on the tunnel in April last year, using a 510-tonne, 160-metre-long machine, with the halfway point in the journey reached in January.

Read more: New pictures show huge tunnel under River Humber

After reaching the north bank of the river at Paull, the machine, which was specially built in Germany for the project, will be removed from the tunnel via a shaft.

Work on the next phase of the project will then begin, to install a new 42-inch diameter gas pipeline inside the tunnel to replace the existing gas pipeline which currently crosses the river and is laid in a trench just below the river bed.

The princess, Queen Elizabeth II's only daughter, viewed the stringing area where the 5km of pipes are laid out. The colossal pipes, in eight sections of around 600m each, will be fed through the tunnel once the excavation has been completed later this year.

Princess Anne greets Mayor of North Lincolnshire Councillor John Briggs and officials from National Grid (Image: Scunthorpe Live)

She was also taken on a tour of the launching pit where the machine, christened Mary after pioneering engineer Mary Fergusson, is burrowing towards the north bank.

Mr Ellison said: "This is a critical project which is going to supply 20 per cent of Britain's gas in the future.

"We are two-thirds of the way under the Humber and it's an incredibly complicated project. We're being very safety conscious, right down to calculating the pressure caused by the Humber's tidal patterns on the tunnel burrowing machine."

Read more: The multi-million pound machine now tunnelling under the River Humber

More than 60 pupils from Goxhill Primary School were at the site to celebrate Princess Anne's arrival and were involved in science and engineering classroom sessions.

Pipes that will form the 5km long Humber pipeline (Image: National Grid)

Mr Ellison said: "We really want to get young children interested in STEM subjects - science, technology, maths and engineering. We want to get them involved in the subjects, and maybe pursue careers like this one day."

The pipeline is a joint venture between National Grid and companies Skanska, PORR Bau GmbH and A.Hak.

It will form a key component of the network of pipes that move gas around Britain.

Princess Anne previously visited northern Lincolnshire in December to officially open Vale Academy in Brigg.

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