It was quite a different morning for a group of schoolchildren from Paisley as they began their day learning about Scottish Water’s major engineering project in the town.

Earlier today the pupils from St Charles Primary were on site to welcome the second, eagerly anticipated, Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) from Germany onto site. The children heard all about the project and had the chance to see ‘Tunnelling Tanya’ up-close.

The project team ran a competition at the end of last year’s school term asking pupils to come up with a name for the TBM. It was Hope Hunter, now a primary 6 pupil at the school, who impressed the judges with the name ‘Tunnelling Tanya’.

Headteacher Grace Hannigan accompanied the schoolchildren to site and was delighted for them to be there. She said: “It’s been amazing for the pupils to see first-hand what’s involved in a project of this scale and nature. Tunnelling Tanya certainly is an impressive piece of equipment and it’s such an honour that one of our pupils has named her. We’d like to thank everyone involved for providing this unique opportunity.”

One and a half metres in diameter (5ft) and weighing in at an impressive 23 tonnes, Tunnelling Tanya will tunnel at depths of up to 27 metres and will remove 5,000 tonnes of rock as she makes her way under Saucelhill Park in Paisley.

Brian Boland, Project Manager, welcomed everyone to the site. He said: “We’d like to thank you all for coming along today to help mark this important milestone for the project. We’re sure you’ll join us in wishing Tunnelling Tanya well as she sets to work, tunnelling for around eight weeks before emerging at the other side of Saucelhill Park. She’ll undertake the longest drive on this project.”

Working alongside Donegan Civil Engineering, Scottish Water contractors Amey are constructing the large interceptor sewer in Paisley which, once completed, will substantially reduce the frequency of spills from the sewer network into the Espedair Burn and White Cart Water in storm conditions. The project will therefore improve the river water quality in the two watercourses and, in turn, the River Clyde.

Paisley’s MSP George Adam also joined the local schoolchildren on their visit. He said: “It’s not every day you get to see a Tunnel Boring Machine in Paisley – it was a fascinating visit for us all. And what a brilliant name Hope came up with!

“I’m extremely encouraged by the enthusiasm shown by the pupils; they’re so keen to learn and perhaps having had the chance to find out about this major engineering project will spark their interest in a future career in engineering.”

He added: “I’ve really enjoyed hearing about the work that’s being done here and the environmental benefits the project will bring for our vibrant town of Paisley.”

The investment, which is the biggest of its kind Scottish Water has ever made in Renfrewshire, is part of the company’s £250m, five-year programme of work, launched in 2013, to improve river water quality and the natural environment and tackle flooding across the Greater Glasgow area.