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Minister and Belfast Mayor gain inside view of ‘The Tunnel’

11 February, 2009

The Mayor of Belfast Tom Hartley joined the Sinn Féin Regional Development Minister Conor Murphy to inspect progress on the £100million Belfast Sewers Project.

The NI Water project will upgrade the existing sewer network and increase storm water capacity. The visit included an examination of the longest section of the four-meter diameter tunnel which stretches underneath Belfast from Duncrue to Cromac Street.

Speaking on site at Whitla Street where tunnelling is now at an advanced stage, Minister Murphy said:

"I welcome the progress that has been made on this vital project. The scheme represents our commitment to providing Belfast with a network that has been designed to the highest industry standards to last well into the 21st Century. The system will accommodate our expanding city and its water and wastewater needs, virtually eliminate the risk of flooding while taking into account modern day challenges of climate change and reduce the risk of pollution to the River Lagan."

The Mayor of Belfast said:

"I would like to congratulate all the team involved and am delighted to witness the progress made on one of the biggest civil engineering projects in these isles. It is great to see that we are well on track to bring such large scale benefits to the city."

Morgan Farrans are the main contractor for this major investment, alongside NI Water's appointed project managers, Atkins. Throughout each stage of this programme a range of advanced technologies to ensure that the initiative runs safely and efficiently, have been employed. The programme is due for completion in early 2010.

Note to Editors

  1. The Belfast Sewers Project involves work to upgrade the existing sewer networks and the construction of a large diameter drainage tunnel to increase storm water capacity. A contract to upgrade the sewer network was started in 2005. There are approximately 1,800 km of sewers covering a catchment area of 42 square kilometres. The older central area of Belfast is currently served by two large diameter brick sewers which date back to 1888 and a third concrete sewer which was commissioned in the 1970's. The tunnelling work is the final part of the Belfast Sewers Project and will provide the required increased capacity in the sewerage system.
  2. The implementation of this project will result in the closure of a significant number of the existing combined sewer overflows, which will reduce the pollutant load from the sewerage system on the River Lagan and its tributaries by 85% of present levels.
  3. The route of the tunnels was determined by ground conditions, the availability of sites for the tunnel shafts, and other logistical constraints.
  4. Morgan Est, part of Morgan Sindall plc, is a leading provider of civil, mechanical, electrical and project management services for water and waste water projects. Their core areas of civil engineering include roads, rail projects, bridges and tunnel design and construction. Locally based Farrans Construction Ltd is part of the Northstone group.

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