HS2 water pipe plan to ease drought in south

A £2.6 billion plan to lay a water pipe alongside the controversial HS2 high speed rail line, which will pass through parts of Staffordshire, has been unveiled.

A £2.6 billion plan to lay a water pipe alongside the controversial HS2 high speed rail line, which will pass through parts of Staffordshire, has been unveiled.

The pipe would take water from the north to the parched south.

Water company United Utilities is behind the drought-busting proposal and bosses are due to address MPs about the scheme on March 7. The £33 billion high speed rail scheme, which was approved in January, passes close to Lichfield, Whittington, Hints and Streethay.

It has sparked opposition from landowners, councillors and environmental campaigners.

Lichfield MP Michael Fabricant today cast doubts on the feasibility of the latest scheme, adding: “I doubt whether this is a practical proposition as the size of the pipe would have to be over two metres wide.

“HS2 is going to cause considerable disruption during its construction as it passes through Staffordshire and I would not wish to see this compounded by similar construction for the water pipe.”

United Utilities believes it will cost around £7 million a mile to install the 6ft 6in pipe tracing the route of the rail line. It is expected to cost around £1.1 billion to run the pipe from Birmingham to London.

The pipe would also run  as far as Leeds and Manchester, once the second phase of the HS2 scheme is completed in 2033.

England’s canals may be used to supply the water rather than its reservoirs with up to 66 gallons of water delivered each day.

Russ Houlden, of United Utilities, said: “HS2 offers a once in a lifetime opportunity to minimise planning difficulties and environmental impact.”

Last week, the Government hosted a drought summit after parts of southern England saw water levels drop to their lowest for 36 years.

It has also emerged 30 million litres water a day will be piped from the West Midlands to the drought-hit east under a plan being drawn up by Severn Trent using existing pipes and starting as early as June.

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