Chester drainage tunnel excavations find new home at Chester Zoo

17 August 2021

Sand excavated from the new surface water drainage tunnel through Chester city centre has been donated to Chester Zoo by the Council in partnership with its contractor VINCI Construction UK.

Over two hundred tonnes of red sandstone have been provided from the works along St. Martin's Way and Nicholas Street and will be used in the charity zoo's Eastern black rhino and painted dog habitats.

During the excavations the two tunnel boring machines extract the sandstone and the on-site separation plants wash and separate the sand to meet the zoo’s strict bio-security standards.

Councillor Richard Beacham, Cabinet Member for Inclusive Growth, Economy and Regeneration said: "We are delighted to help facilitate this donation to Chester Zoo and put the sand excavated to good use. Work on the new drainage tunnel is progressing well, we want to thank the public for bearing with us while we work to complete this piece of critical infrastructure as fast as possible."

Colin Rankin, Business Development Director for VINCI Construction UK Limited said: "Being able to work with Chester Zoo to support their important animal conservation work is a real privilege and we hope this donation can make a difference to the welfare of their Eastern black rhinos and painted dogs."

Dr Nick Davis, Deputy Curator of Mammals, at Chester Zoo, commented: "We're very grateful to Cheshire West and Chester Council and VINCI Construction UK for going the extra mile to identify a use for the tunnel excavations. As a charity, this donation has saved us over £6,000, helping us in our mission to prevent extinction. The red sandstone is perfect for the Eastern black rhino and painted dogs' habitats, as it mirrors the animal's environment in the wild."

The new drain is a major future-proof investment in Chester's recovery from the pandemic, and an essential requirement ahead of major regeneration schemes, including the Northgate development currently under construction.

The drain will run south along St. Martin's Way, Nicholas Street, Grosvenor Road and Castle Drive. It will be almost 1km in length, 1.2m in diameter and require 9 access shafts spaced along the route, each 7m wide and up to 12m deep.

The works will result in significant environmental protections and benefits. The new drain will reduce flooding and drain bursts in the city centre; reduce the volume of water requiring sewage treatment; help cut energy use; and reduce untreated sewage discharges into the River Dee during heavy rainfall when the current network is already at capacity.

Over 99% of the excavations from the new drainage tunnel will be recovered or recycled, in line with the wider environmental strategy for the Northgate development.

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