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Picture shows (left to right): Darren Hunt (Durham County Council's Clean and Green Team), Durham County Councillor Rob Yorke, and Northumbrian Water's Project Manager, Peter Greenan.


Two village benches have been restored as a thank you from water workers, following a £1m project aimed at protecting the local environment.


Northumbrian Water carried out the sewer upgrade project earlier this year, replacing almost one mile of sewage pipework that takes the waste out of the village of Escomb to Bishop Auckland Sewage Treatment Works, where it is treated.


During the investment work, the team noticed that the benches, on the green space in Dunelm Chare, in Escomb, needed revamping to ensure they can continue to offer relaxation and respite for years to come.


So, partnering with Durham County Council, Northumbrian Water paid for the revamp to be carried out by the local authority's Clean and Green team to thank residents for their patience during the overall investment project.


The sewer upgrade work carried out by the company's partner, Mott MacDonald Bentley (MMB),  will reduce the chances of pollution from the old pipe, which had reached the end of its life.


As well as the work to restore the benches, Northumbrian Water and MMB also spent time in the summer working with Weardale Railway to do some fence painting at Bishop Auckland Railway Station, using time given by the water company's employee volunteering programme, Just An Hour.


During the course of the project, the company worked with local landowners and also with the Weardale Railway to reduce disruption, using underground drilling to minimise digging in fields and feeding the new pipe through the structure of a footbridge to allow it to cross the heritage railway line.  Weardale Railway assisted in construction by transporting scaffolding on the rail line to the bridge, while Northumbrian Water also worked with Durham County Council to agree measures that would make future maintenance of the bridge deck easier.


Northumbrian Water Project Manager, Peter Greenan, said: "We place protecting the environment at the heart of our work, and the renewal of the pipeline from Escomb to Bishop Auckland will give additional protection to the village and surrounding areas, reducing the risk of pollution from our network.


"It was fantastic to work with the team from Weardale Railway on the painting at the train station earlier in the summer, and to be able to partner with Durham County Council's Clean and Green team to have these benches restored was a fitting way to leave a thank you to the community."


Cllr Brian Stephens, Cabinet member for neighbourhoods and local partnerships at Durham County Council, said: "Our clean and green team works hard to keep County Durham looking its best and it is wonderful to see businesses in the area supporting us with that task. Providing opportunities for employees to volunteer within the community is a very worthwhile initiative and I would like to thank Northumbrian Water for the valuable contributions it has made in Escomb and Bishop Auckland." 



Cllr Rob Yorke, Cllr's Stephens' Cabinet support member at Durham County Council, added: "We are very grateful for the support we have received from Northumbrian Water. The benches look fantastic and I am sure they will be enjoyed by Escomb residents for many years to come."