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Flood scheme sets CEEQUAL standard

ARUP AND Edmund Nuttall have been awarded one of the first CEEQUAL awards at the recent Institution of Civil Engineers annual conference in Belfast, for the joint work on the Environment Agency design and build project to alleviate flooding in Wakefield.

The Civil Engineering Environmental Quality and Assessment Scheme rewards projects for high environmental quality, sustainability in design, and for best practice in construction.

The awards have been developed by a industry-wide project advisory group led by the ICE with financial support from the Department of Trade & Industry's Partners in Innovation. Projects are graded with a pass; good; very good or excellent, so that the CEEQUAL awards provide a standard to compare and benchmark civil engineering projects and to raise environmental performance across the industry.

More than 40 industry partners have been involved in the trial and pilot phase of the award, and the excellent rating, given to Arup/Nuttall, is one of the first of the pilots to be publicly assessed ahead of the full launch of CEEQUAL last month.

The first phase of the Wakefield flood alleviation scheme was commissioned by the Environment Agency, in response to a century of repeated flooding of the city by the River Calder. It is one of five schemes awarded to Arup and Nuttall to cut flooding in the north of England. The Agency invested £7M in the first phase of a scheme that would be sympathetic to the town's local environment and protects more than 1,000 properties and major infrastructure in the city centre.

Work includes 10km of flood defences through Wakefield and the creation of upstream flood storage reservoirs or 'washlands'. These create recreational and habitat improvements, and by storing water, reduce the flow downstream, meaning the new defences can be built to a smaller, less intrusive scale.

'Soft engineering' and innovative designs were encouraged.

The scheme incorporated 'green' erosion protection; use of reinforced earth embankments instead of walls, and altered alignments and design solutions to preserve habitat. Environmental enhancements included a floating tern island, an otter holt, washland shallows, and the planting of native trees. Access tracks, footpaths and bridleways were also preserved or enhanced.

Historic buildings were integrated into the defence: Fall Ings Lock was raised to flood defence standard and internal improvements were made to Hirst's Mill to ensure it was better protected from flooding. In both cases existing copings were retained and/or re-used.

The defences are designed to interact aesthetically with existing buildings and structures, and included public art to reflect the heritage of the city.

The local community were also considered; visits were made to local schools to lecture on the dangers of construction sites, and the team sponsored and competed in fund raising events for the local Wakefield Hospice.

The Environment Agency set sustainability targets including 20% waste reduction, energy saving, recycling, and use of FSC (Forest Stewardship Council certified) timber. By incorporating 'lean' design methods the team cut waste by nearly 90%.

Additional energy saving measures included engineers and site visitors using bikes instead of cars to travel around the construction sites.

Mark Fletcher, associate director of Arup Water said: 'We felt that the Arup/Nuttall and Environment Agency's team performance on the project had all the hallmarks of a CEEQUAL award - a sound environmental grounding at tender stage, delivery through innovative design work over three years and a committed, responsible site team. The project team has worked flat out for this, so they really deserve the credit for getting the top CEEQUAL rating. We are sure that CEEQUAL will help to improve sustainable performance across the civil engineering industry.'

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