Northumbrian Water has finished work on a £1 million project replacing near one mile of sewage piping, used for carrying waste out of the village of Escomb and on its way to treatment at Bishop Auckland sewage treatment works. The company said the older main had reached the end of its life and would have posed a pollution risk.

The replacement process started in November 2018, carried out by company partner Mott MacDonald Bentley (MMB). The company worked with local landowners as well as the Weardale Railway to minimise disruption. This was achieved by using underground drilling and feeding the new pipe through the existing structure of a footbridge, allowing it to cross the heritage railway line.

Last month, Northumbrian Water announced it was moving into the next stage of a £3 million project to renovate 9km of water mains across the north east. The company also plans to invest £9 million into replacing three sewage works over the next two years.

Having worked with the Weardale Railway team over the course of the project, a group of Northumbrian Water and MMB employees marked the end of work by visiting Bishop Auckland train station to help paint the station’s fence.

The company is also planning to refurbish two old benches on green space in Dunelm Chare in Escomb as a token of its thanks to the community.

Such work will be undertaken as part of Northumbrian Water’s “just an hour” volunteering scheme, which gives employees allotted time out of the work day to support local charities.

Northumbrian Water project manager, Peter Greenan, said: “Protecting the environment is at the heart of our work and this project will give additional protection to the Escomb area, reducing the risk of pollution from our network.

“The team at the Weardale Railway and the wider community of Escomb have been fantastic throughout the project and we wanted to thank them by giving something back. The old benches are definitely in need of some TLC, so we will come back and refurbish those in partnership with Durham County Council, and we have enjoyed spending time at the train station to give that a lick of paint.”