Plan for £300m Lake District water pipeline approved

Thirlmere reservoir Image copyright United Utilities
Image caption The new pipeline will take water from Thirlmere reservoir

Plans for a £300m pipeline to safeguard demand for drinking water in west Cumbria have been approved.

United Utilities needs to stop taking supplies from Ennerdale Water in the Lake District, which is a protected wildlife habitat.

Instead it wants a new 62-mile (100km) pipeline from Thirlmere reservoir to provide water to about 150,000 people.

Allerdale Council is the final local authority in the county to approve the company's planning application.

United Utilities estimates the project, which also includes new treatment works and pumping stations, will create about 400 jobs.

'Long-term benefits'

Areas around Whitehaven, Egremont, Workington, Maryport, Cockermouth and Wigton will receive their water via the new pipeline when it is completed in 2022.

The route will roughly follow the A591 from Thirlmere to a planned new treatment works near Cockermouth.

The plan was approved by Allerdale Council despite objections from several groups including Friends of the Lake District and the Ramblers, who claimed it would significantly damage the landscape.

United Utilities said water extraction from Ennerdale had to stop to meet EU environmental regulations and to prevent predicted shortages to supplies.

A spokesman added: "This is the culmination of several years of detailed planning and consultation.

"We've worked to develop a scheme which delivers major long-term benefits for west Cumbria, while seeking to minimise traffic inconvenience and safeguarding the environment during construction.

"The new scheme will ease the pressure on sensitive local water sources and provide a more secure supply for homes and businesses for the decades to come."

Work on the new pipeline is due to begin in March 2017.

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