Roosting bats have been blamed for delays to Bristol Water’s £27M supply improvement scheme.
The utility firm’s southern resilience scheme aims to improve its water supply to 280,000 customers across Bristol and North Somerset, and includes a new pumping station and two pipelines. As a result, two sections of the Strawberry Line tunnel, popular with local cyclists, have been closed while a pipeline is installed.
While the pumping station and pipelines will be completed by the project’s March 2018 deadline, the tunnel will remain shut as roosting bats halted vital safety works following a rock fall in October 2016.
“We have made significant improvements to the safety netting to ensure the tunnel’s ongoing safety once our work has been completed. Unfortunately our work on the safety netting had to be suspended due to the presence of roosting bats,” Bristol Water confirmed in a project update.
As much work as possible was completed at the Strawberry Line tunnel site before the bats began hibernating in October.
Bristol Water said the route had been chosen to deliver the best engineering solutions for the scheme. Instead of pumping water from a pumping station in Barrow Gurney to Cheddar, engineers are relying on gravity to deliver lower running costs and less energy use across the route. It also means the existing pumping station at Barrow Gurney will not need to be upgraded.
However a new 44M.l per day pumping station is being built at Cheddar, while two new pipeline routes are being installed. The first pipeline runs for 11km between Cheddar Treatment Works and Banwell Riverside, while the other runs for 19.2km between Barrow Treatment Works and Sandford.