EcoNorth > Flood Alleviation Project in Cumbria

Flood Alleviation Project in Cumbria

Flood Alleviation, rivers, digger

In December 2015, severe rainfall caused significant flooding across many parts of  Cumbria and North Lancashire resulting in an estimated £500m of damage to homes and infrastructure, including many of the existing key flood defence structures.

Following the successful partnership between VBA (VolkerStevin, Boskalis Westminster and Atkins) and EcoNorth on projects such as the award-winning Crag End Landslip Repair scheme, EcoNorth was drafted in to support the VBA Joint Venture Ltd. teams who were tasked with repairing over 50 flood stricken sites across the region.

EcoNorth’s integrated project role involved working closely within the teams tasked with a variety of jobs, many of which were within areas of national and international nature conservation value (SPAs, SACs and SSSIs), featuring large populations of qualifying features such as white-clawed crayfish and Atlantic salmon. Due to the sensitivity of the sites and the species found within them, the repair works had to be designed and planned with the input of several stakeholders and regulators to ensure minimal disturbance and impacts upon site integrity were achieved.

Majors works included the repairs of flood defences and river channels, with some requiring high-risk operations such as pouring large volumes of concrete (highly toxic to aquatic life) within and adjacent to river channels. Such work, with EcoNorth’s specialist ecological input, had to be rigorously planned to minimise potential impacts. This was achieved through the deployment of appropriate mitigation and careful monitoring of conditions, reducing the risk to the watercourses and ecology within them. Such mitigation included the control of sediment released into the watercourses as fine sediments can be damaging to fish gills or smoother the cobble river beds required by white-clawed crayfish.

Further works included the survey and assessment of future sites requiring remediation works, allowing for forward planning around ecological features that may have timing constraints on proposed works. The assessment of these sites highlighted important constraints such as the potential for bats within damaged structures in need of repair or the presence of invasive species present within work areas.

As if the logistics of working across 50 sites in a very tight timescale weren’t challenging enough, typical Lakeland weather complicated matters further with rapid rises in water levels and flow being common after heavy rain. Such swift fluctuations posed a genuine risk to both the sites themselves and the teams working within them. However, detailed planning and a rigorous approach to the Health and Safety of all ensured that such challenges could be met.

 These works demonstrate EcoNorth’s pragmatic and flexible approach, as well as our commitment to providing a professional level of ecological and environmental support as part of multidisciplinary team, when and where it is need. EcoNorth’s ability to mobilise and integrate in to new teams rapidly helped VBA address rapidly evolving challenges that arose on site, a common hurdle with such technical and bespoke engineering tasks. The service EcoNorth provided helped VBA achieve their environmental, ecological and health and safety objectives, by ensuring any risks were identified at the early stages so as to collaboratively develop sustainable and robust solutions.

Otter Prints on River Bank
Project Start & End Date 22/08/2016 – 30/09/2016
Client VBA Joint Venture Ltd.
Location Cumbria and North Lancashire
Contract Value £15,000