The works consisted on the construction of a package of 12 features upstream of Belford as part of a flood alleviation scheme. Carried out in close collaboration with our group sister company Amco Engineering, on behalf of the Environment Agency.
Belford is a civil parish in Northumberland halfway between Alnwick and the Scottish Border. There are records of flood events in the town dating back to 1877. There were five separate flooding incidents between 2005 and 2007 alone. Traditional flood defences were not suitable for Belford owing to the high cost, lack of space for flood walls and not meeting the criteria for Grant-in Aid funding due to the low number of properties at risk. The Environment Agency, Newcastle University, AMCO and VHE addressed the problem by developing a solution using soft engineered runoff management features.
VHE and AMCO viewed the project as a whole to identify work areas which could be resourced independently and carried out concurrently. The scheme included a number of innovative and sustainable initiatives. These included the creation of bunded storage areas with outlet pipes to control the discharge of water back into the stream, the installation of recycled plastic sheet piles to create a series of storage areas and a Woven Willow barrier which created a living flood defence.
The works were administered using the NEC Short Form of Contract which required the contractor to produce a works programme relevant to the duration of the project. The 7 week programme comprised of 12 separate features which were completed on schedule, despite the works being undertaken during wintery conditions.
Due to the competitive nature of the tender stage, additional funds from the Environment Agency’s budget were invested to carry out further works for the benefit of the scheme and the community. The works, which included sheet piles and fencing, were also complete within the designated programme.
A Street Works notice and Temporary Traffic Control application were required to be approved and authorised by Northumberland County Council. This included approval of traffic management plans, materials and reinstatement requirements. The Belford Flood Alleviation Scheme project won the 2015 ICE North East Robert Stephenson Award in the Small Project (Under £500k) Category. The awards are held to promote and reward excellence in civil engineering.