A ten-year-old girl from County Durham with a passion for construction carried out her own special site visit ahead of Northumbrian Water’s plan to tunnel under the River Tees.

Penny Green, 10, oversaw the site where Northumbrian Water plans to install a tunnel beneath the river near Barnard Castle.

Using a boring machine to facilitate laying the £155m of tunnels, the plan is set to connect Lartington Water Treatment Works with 200,000 customers across the southern region of the North East.

Penny, from Cotherstone, won a competition to name the machine, run by Farrans Construction, the water company’s partner in the project’s delivery.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Penny Green with 'Penelope', the tunnel boring machine she named after herself

She chose the name Penelope – after herself, because “the machine is strong, like her". She was joined by her family – parents Richard and Kelly, and siblings Toby, Josie and Harry - at the eastern shaft, to see the machine and meet the team.

Penny said: “It was great to see Penelope the tunnelling machine, with her name – and my name – on the side. I chose the machine, because it must be strong, like me, to create a tunnel all the way under the River Tees.”

Phase 1 of the plan intends to connect the Lartington water system with Whorley Hill and Shildon, and will be followed by phase 2, extending the pipeline from Whorley Hill to Long Newton, ensuring connectivity to the existing network that services large parts of Teesside.

In recent months, work has been carried out by Farrans Construction, and subcontractors Joseph Gallagher Limited, to create the two shafts, one on either side of the river. The western shaft is eight metres in diameter and 32 metres deep, while the eastern shaft is 7.5 metres in diameter and 46 metres deep.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Penny and her family, along with members of the Project Pipeline: County Durham and Tees Valley team, with PenelopePenny and her family, along with members of the Project Pipeline: County Durham and Tees Valley team, with Penelope (Image: NORTHUMBRIAN WATER)

The 220m tunnel, using 15 wagons’ worth of concrete weighing 221 tonnes, is being used to facilitate this ‘no dig technique’ to both improve infrastructure and protect the Tees Valley landscape.

James Dawes, Northumbrian Water’s project manager praised the plan so far, saying: “This is the first time we have employed it to cross a large river and the teams at Farrans and Joseph Gallagher Limited have done a great job in creating these massive shafts to make this possible.”