Banks Mining and the Gallagher Group win praise for land restoration projects

Banks Mining creates wetlands and the Gallagher Group creates farmland

Oct 28th 2015

Ten-year landscaping project to restore Leeds opencast mine is completed

A ten-year landscaping project on the site of a former opencast mine near Leeds has created new wetlands, a new avenue of trees, around 6.5km of new hedges, a new area of parkland, and one of the largest new broadleaved woodlands in the area. The 200 hectare site is situated between Methley and Rothwell to the south-east of Leeds. The ten-year project, which was recently completed, has been praised by Leeds City Council for its quality and effectiveness.

The Moss Carr site was mined by Banks Mining, part of the Durham-based Banks Group, who mined over a million tonnes of coal between 1997 and 2004. Initial restoration work was completed in 2005 and this was followed by a ten-year management plan to enhance the landscape and public access to the site. The plan was agreed with Leeds City Council’s Planning Department and implemented by Banks Mining in partnership with Mexborough Estates.

The new woodlands include 43,000 broadleaved trees covering an area of 30 hectares. Max Rathmell, Minerals, Waste and Contaminated Land Manager at Leeds City Council, said: “The new woodland has achieved some prodigious tree growth and a commendable degree of success, with the number of self-sown trees, particularly oak, being a pointer towards a healthy environment. There is also a good range of herbaceous plants to be found, while the main pond on the site is simply a delight to behold.”

The Moss Carr restoration project was named as the winner of the Landscape category at the 2012 Leeds Architectural Awards and the leader of the judging panel said at the time: “This staggeringly ambitious project planned and executed so successfully by Banks Mining inspired the judging panel, and the restoration of such a huge area of opencast mines back to a pastoral countryside richer than before it was dug up is truly remarkable.”

Mark Dowdall, Environment and Community Director at the Banks Group, said: “The landscaping and restoration of our surface mines, which is tailored to the needs of each individual site, is just as central to their planning and operation as any other part of their development, and provides a great opportunity to deliver a range of environmental, ecological, habitat, tourism and recreational benefits. The restoration and management of the Moss Carr site was a hugely detailed and carefully planned operation which was conceived long before we started working on the site, and we’re very proud of both the new landscape at Moss Carr and the facilities we’ve created in the area, which will be enjoyed by local people for decades to come.”

A number of footpaths have been reinstated on the site, including a section of the Leeds Country Way, with new features such as green lane hedging and direction markers to assist public access. Max Rathmell at Leeds City Council said the council has enjoyed working with the company on the restoration and management of the Moss Carr site. “Banks Mining have shown that coal working can take place within an attractive semi-rural landscape,” he said.

For more on this story, see the Agg-Net website.

A £1 million tunnel helps to conserve a bridle path at Hermitage Quarry in Kent

The Gallagher Group has been in the news recently for two projects. At the recent ‘Quarries and Nature 2015’ event, organised by the Mineral Products Association, Gallagher Aggregates was highly commended for its work at Workhouse Quarry, near Maidstone in Kent. The company handled the filling and restoration of the quarry and its sister company now farms the land. At the awards ceremony, the judges said: “The site was filled with inert construction waste that could not be recycled. Today, the completed land form includes a wildlife corridor with hedgerows linking two older woodlands, as well as a drainage pond that provides another valuable habitat.”

In further news, the company has secured a further 25 years of quarrying at Hermitage Quarry, also near Maidstone in Kent, with the construction of a tunnel that links the current quarry with a new westerly extension. The quarry supplies Kentish ragstone aggregate and building stone. The tunnel was required by planning to allow local residents and horse riders to continue to use an established bridle path. Measuring 100m in length, 16m in width and 15m in height, the tunnel cost £1 million to construct and took nine months to complete.

Pat Gallagher, Chair of the Gallagher Group, said at a ceremony to mark the tunnel’s opening: “Today is about celebrating our past, and the quality of our quarrying and commitment to restoring the land once we have removed the Kentish ragstone. It’s also about looking forward to the next 25 years and the work that we will do as a family-run business to deliver on our promises and restore the land back to what it was, or better. Many of the fields around the quarry have already been quarried and today they are productive farmland.” He also said that the planning permission for the quarry’s extension has been the catalyst for new jobs and the investment of £9 million in new equipment, plant and vehicles, as well as providing the tunnel.

Councillor Mark Dance, Kent County Council’s Cabinet Member for Economic Development and Regeneration, said: “Pat and his team have built a business that Kent can be truly proud of. Not only is Hermitage Quarry producing the Kentish ragstone needed by the construction industry, it provides the indigenous building stone for use in new-build and restoration projects, and is providing important employment for local people.”

For more news of quarry restoration projects, see last week’s news item “Mineral Products Association celebrates quarry restoration at ‘Quarries and Nature 2015′”.


Hermitage Quarry by DittonDangler (Own work). Via Wikimedia Commons and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Council’s Local Plan deprives residents of their gardens

Kirklees Council tells Huddersfield residents their gardens have been allocated for development

Oct 27th 2015

A Local Plan published by Kirklees Council would deprive a number of residents in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, of their gardens. The residents have been told that the land they rent from the Council could be sold off to developers and used to build 39 homes.

The proposed development would affect 45 privately-owned homes on Taylor Hill Road in the Newsome area of Huddersfield. Although the residents own their properties, the gardens are leased from Kirklees Council for a peppercorn rent of about £150 a year and many home owners have invested tens of thousands of pounds on cultivating the plots.

The gardens are situated on an area of land behind the homes on Taylor Hill Road and Kirklees Council has provisionally allocated the land for development under its Draft Local Plan. The Council is holding a six-week consultation on the Draft Local Plan which begins next month.

The Daily Mail reports that the gardens are both cherished play areas for children and fertile plots for those who simply want to grow flowers, fruit or vegetables. As well as the loss of the gardens, the proposed development would also see the loss of around 21 garages.

Peter Moore, a plumber who has lived on Taylor Hill Road for 35 years, is said by the Daily Mail to have spent more than £60,000 creating a magnificent garden: “Along with a summer house, greenhouse, vegetable patch, fruit trees and chicken run, he also faces losing his huge ornamental pond – which took four months to dig out and contains 13 species of fish. The 64-year-old said: ‘I am more interested in the nature being destroyed than the amount of money that I will lose. I have done this as a hobby. Some people like racing cars, my passion is gardening and looking after the wildlife.’”

Residents have said they will fight the proposals. An action group has been formed and residents are organising a protest petition. They have the support of a local Green Party councillor Andrew Cooper, who described the proposal as “bonkers.” Speaking to the Huddersfield Daily Examiner, he said: “On so many levels it is bizarre the idea was ever included in the draft plan. The proposal makes no sense at all. Local people have invested their own time and money creating well-cared for gardens and many have garages to keep their cars off the road. I’m calling on the Council to drop these proposals immediately. The area is also a wildlife haven in Taylor Hill with bats, newts and other animals.”

A year ago, the Huddersfield Daily Examiner reported that Kirklees Council was planning to sell 938 garages and 1,238 gardens in a bid to raise £12 million. Speaking on behalf of the Council, Councillor Graham Turner said: “The asset disposal programme is extremely important to the Council as the money raised will be used to help offset the savage budget cuts that have been imposed by central government.” The Examiner reported that Kirklees Council needs to find £69 million of savings by 2017 and asset disposal is likely to net the Council £27 million overall. Its assets also include 21 farms and 91 grazing tenancies.

Last November, Councillor Graham Turner said of the people affected by tenancies or leases: “We expect this programme to take several years to complete, so if it is agreed at next week’s meeting, there would be no immediate need to contact the Council. We would contact affected members of the public at the appropriate time over the coming years.”

On Kirklees Council’s latest proposals – the plans to sell off gardens for development as part of its Draft Local Plan – the Daily Mail commented: “With an ever-increasing population and an insatiable demand for new homes, such land grabs could be a sign of things to come across Britain.” The UK Government expects all local planning authorities to produce a Local Plan by 2017. It has also set a target for building 150,000 new houses on surplus public sector land – see our news item “Small sites and small builders could accelerate the delivery of new housing, says Planning Minister” for more planning news.

Defra responds to recommendations of Natural Capital Committee

“Government will produce a 25 year plan for the natural environment”

Oct 26th 2015

Defra has announced that the Government will be producing a 25 year plan for the natural environment, in response to three reports by the Natural Capital Committee on the ‘State of Natural Capital.’ The Committee has completed the tasks set out in its terms of reference and has made a number of recommendations for further action by the Government.

Defra published its response to the recommendations last month. As well as the proposal that the Government publish a 25 year plan, the Natural Capital Committee has recommended that:

  1. The Government should assign institutional responsibility for monitoring the state of natural capital.
  2. Organisations should create a register of natural capital for which they are responsible and use this to maintain its quality and quantity.
  3. The Government should urgently step up action to ensure that the Office for National Statistics and Defra meet the target of incorporating natural capital into the national accounts by 2020.
  4. The National Infrastructure Plan should incorporate natural capital into each of the main infrastructure sectors.
  5. The Government should revise its economic appraisal guidance (Green Book) implementing the Committee’s advice.
  6. The Government should drive a substantial, long-term, interdisciplinary research programme on natural capital to inform future iterations of the strategy.
  7. The Government should determine how the plan to protect and improve natural capital is to be funded.

In response, Defra says the Government agrees with the need for a 25 year plan and intends to deliver on the commitments it has already made to protect the UK’s environmental assets, including: “putting in place a new ‘Blue Belt’ to protect precious marine habitats; spending £3 billion from the Common Agricultural Policy to enhance England’s countryside over the next five years; planting an additional 11 million trees; launching an ambitious programme of pocket parks; tackling air and water pollution; and ensuring the value of Green Belts and AONBs, National Parks, SSSIs and other environmental designations are appropriately protected.”

With regard to the Committee’s other recommendations, Defra says it agrees with four of the above, but has qualified its support for the remaining three.

On the second recommendation above, concerning registers of natural capital, Defra says whilst it agrees with the underlying premise, it “does not currently consider the approach of creating ‘registers of natural capital’ as universally applicable. However we would encourage those organisations with significant influence or dependence on land, air and water assets to consider how best they can manage these to maximise value and minimise risks. The methods explored in corporate natural capital accounting can help enhance the quality of organisational decision making in this regard.”

Defra also disagrees with the proposal for incorporating natural capital into the National Infrastructure Plan. On this proposal, Defra says: “The Government recognises the value of natural capital to the country’s long-term economic growth. We do not currently agree that an investment programme for natural capital should explicitly feature in the National Infrastructure Plan. We do, however, strive for all publicly funded infrastructure investments to make a positive contribution to protecting and enhancing our natural environment, further strengthened by expected upcoming revisions to the Green Book. For example, we are investing £300m as part of the new roads programme to deliver improvements for the local environment.”

On the last proposal above, regarding funding for the 25 year plan, Defra acknowledges that “having the appropriate funding and incentive mechanisms in place will be a determining factor in the success of the plan.” It also says that the Government “will use the concept of natural capital to help enhance decisions on how public money is invested in land and water asset management to deliver greater value and multiple benefits.” However: “investment in natural capital is not the sole responsibility of Government as the Committee highlights. We want to develop the evidence for the full range of sustainable funding opportunities that could help to underpin the plan. Natural capital accounting, for example, provides a tool that allows organisations to understand the value of assets under their control and the change in these values over time. We would encourage asset owners and managers to apply this approach to ensure that the value of these assets and their associated benefits are maintained over time.”

Defra also mentions the fact that the Government is already supporting two long-term research programmes on natural capital through its Research Councils:

  • The Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services for Sustainability Programme (£13m): “A six-year programme exploring the role of biodiversity in determining natural capital benefits. It has a specific goal to develop novel tools and indicators for tracking and measuring biodiversity and ecosystem services.”
  • The Valuing Nature Network (£6.5m): “An interdisciplinary research programme that aims to better understand and represent the complexities of the natural environment in valuation analyses and decision making and to consider the wider economic, societal and cultural value of our natural capital.”

The current Natural Capital Committee has now carried out its terms of reference, but Defra says it has decided to extend its life until at least the end of the current Parliament: “We intend to maintain the link between the Natural Capital Committee and Economic Affairs Committee, and continue to draw on the Committee’s advice when developing policy and particularly in the development and delivery of the 25 year plan. We will develop new Terms of Reference to reflect this and will consider the most appropriate form for the Committee in the light of these. We would like it to have a strong focus on building on its previous work by promoting and embedding the value of natural capital in a simple and practical way to better inform decision makers at the national, regional, local, and organisational/asset levels.”

To read Defra’s response in full, see The Government’s response to the Natural Capital Committee’s third State of Natural Capital report, available as a PDF from the GOV.UK website.


Creative Commons Licence
View of the Long Mynd from Wenlock Edge, Shropshire Hills AONB © Copyright Anthony Bloor and licensed for reuse under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Defra has reiterated the government’s commitment to “ensuring the value of Green Belts and AONBs, National Parks, SSSIs and other environmental designations are appropriately protected.”

Brownfield Briefing Sheffield Conference – Regeneration and Brownfield Development

How to optimise the use of policy mechanisms and increase the viability of brownfield sites

Oct 22nd 2015

Brownfield Briefing has organised a conference on regeneration and brownfield development which will be held in Sheffield next month. The conference will be held on Thursday, 12th November and will explore a number of issues concerning brownfield development, such as the latest government policy on brownfield land; the practicalities of using Housing Zones and Local Development Orders to optimise brownfield development; how non-viable brownfield sites could be unlocked and accelerated through planning; and how the creation of new City Regions will accelerate regeneration.

The conference organisers explain the background to conference as the growing attention to brownfield sites, which has grown in order to deliver future housing and development needs whilst avoiding development on contentious greenfield land: “Additionally, the development of a Northern Powerhouse and achieving high levels of regeneration, including infrastructure, commercial and housing development outside of London and the South-East of England, will bring renewed focus onto former industrial sites, coalfields and other brownfield sites.”

There are, however, significant barriers to the redevelopment of brownfield sites: “Many formerly-used sites are considered non-viable by developers because of the high risks, costs and complexity associated with them. Complicated or unclear ownership makes land purchase difficult and then coupled with physical obstacles such as contamination and lack of infrastructure, mean that bringing brownfield land back into re-use is costly, complex and fraught with uncertainties.”

The conference will bring together a range of speakers from the Royal Town Planning Institute, the Planning Advisory Service, the Homes and Communities Agency, the Home Builders Federation, local authorities, consultancies and academia. The conference will be focused on how to optimise the use of funding and policy mechanisms to increase the viability of brownfield sites and successfully unlock challenging sites.

The programme for the day features ten sessions that encompass a wide range of issues impacting on brownfield development, including government policy, the role of local planning authorities, viability and risk analysis, funding and costs. The morning’s sessions are focused on policy and planning:

  • The latest government policy on brownfield development and the mechanisms that will be used to support it, including brownfield land registers and the “planning permission in principle” for brownfield sites.
  • How brownfield sites not currently seen as viable could be unlocked and accelerated through the planning process, including how the process from site investigation to remediation to redevelopment could be simplified and accelerated.
  • The practicalities of implementing Local Development Orders to make brownfield land available for housing, including levels of detail and risk assessments.
  • The use of Brownfield Housing Zones to optimise brownfield development and achieve housing targets, including the funding and incentives available to local authorities.

In the afternoon, the focus of the sessions shifts to regeneration and infrastructure, and the practicalities of costs and remediation:

  • How the creation of new City Regions through the proposed Devolution Deals will accelerate regeneration and development.
  • Reducing uncertainty in remediation to increase confidence in brownfield development, including better techniques to estimate the cost of remediation.
  • The role of brownfield in housing and commercial development from a developer’s perspective.
  • How developers, local authorities and other stakeholders can work together to maximise growth and increase delivery: A case study of the Castlefields Regeneration Partnership.
  • Innovative Regeneration Funding: Accessing the mechanisms available to fund remediation and redevelopment and minimise the risks.
  • How development in transport and infrastructure will be progressed and the implications of this for regeneration.
  • Alternative uses for brownfield to unlock sites and maximise their potential, including the role of brownfield sites in developing sustainable cities.

Regeneration, Brownfield Development & City Regions will be held in Sheffield on Thursday, 12th November. For further information on the conference, see Brownfield Briefing.


Photograph: Derelict hardstanding, near Thorney Hill, Hampshire © Copyright Jim Champion and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence. The land was part of RAF Holmsley in the New Forest, which was operational during the Second World War.

Mineral Products Association celebrates quarry restoration at ‘Quarries and Nature 2015’

Mineral Products Association’s Restoration Awards now in their 45th year

Oct 21st 2015

Over sixty environmental and conservation organisations attended an event last week hosted by BBC ‘Country File’ presenter Helen Skelton at the Royal Society in London. The event – ‘Quarries & Nature 2015 – Building on Britain’s Natural Capital’ – was organised by the Mineral Products Association and celebrated the work of the mineral products industry in quarry restoration and wildlife conservation.

In a press release, Nigel Jackson, the Mineral Products Association’s CEO, said: “We are celebrating and showcasing some of the wonderful things our industry is doing for biodiversity and wider environmental, social and economic benefits. As well as delivering improvements in biodiversity and natural beauty for their own sake, we deliver other benefits and services such as public access, culture and recreation, water management, and carbon sequestration through working, management and restoration of land. This event reaffirms that this is an industry that is uniquely placed to deliver not only biodiversity, but also wider benefits, contributing to the stock of Natural Capital.”

The Mineral Products Association’s Restoration Awards are now in their 45th year. The awards recognise exceptional practice in quarry restoration. This year, the prestigious Cooper-Heyman Cup for outstanding achievement in restoration went to Hanson UK, working in partnership with landowner Geoffrey Hemus, the RSPB, Aston Villa Football Club and the Middleton Hall Trust, for its work at Middleton Hall Quarry in Warwickshire. The judges said of the project: “The project at the 470 hectare site has produced a mix of football pitches, reed beds, woodland, pasture and fishing. Hanson worked closely with the Environment Agency on experimental extraction of gravel from the river bank, which created islands, gravel bars and other features to enhance the habitat value and help alleviate flooding in the wider area.”

CEMEX UK was highly commended for its work at Powburn Quarry in Northumberland. The judges said: “At Powburn, CEMEX, working in partnership with landowner John Carr Ellison, have created a place that is loved by both wildlife and the community, not least the local primary school which has its own direct access. The site has two lakes, one for fishermen as well as nature conservation. Facilities include a bird hide, interpretation boards, a dipping pond and disabled access.”

Gallagher Aggregates was also highly commended for its work at Workhouse Quarry, near Maidstone in Kent. Gallagher Aggregates handled the filling and restoration of the quarry and its sister company now farms the land. The judges said: “The site was filled with inert construction waste that could not be recycled. Today, the completed land form includes a wildlife corridor with hedgerows linking two older woodlands, as well as a drainage pond that provides another valuable habitat.”

Mineral Products Association’s Biodiversity Awards

The Mineral Products Association, in association with Natural England, has also been awarding contributions to biodiversity for the last three years. Its Biodiversity Awards showcase the variety of projects that minerals companies are undertaking to enhance biodiversity and protect threatened species. Entries are invited from companies both large and small under the award categories of Landscape-Scale, Innovation, Planned, and Individual Contribution.

The overall winners of the Natural England Award for Landscape-Scale Biodiversity were Hanson UK and Aggregates Industries for their work at Batts Combe and Callow Rock in Somerset. This was a joint entry from the two companies, with their landholdings in the area covering around 450 hectares in all. Work in the area has been in progress for the last twenty years and the judges were particularly impressed by the joint collaboration with Somerset Wildlife Trust and Natural England in establishing wildlife corridors. The collaborative project is targeting conservation work to ensure maximum benefits are delivered in creating, managing and expanding calcareous grassland, woodland and hedgerow habitats and joining them up with the surrounding area.

Winners of the Innovation category in biodiversity were two projects being undertaken by CEMEX to help in the conservation of two rare bird species, the twite and the turtle dove. CEMEX is working with the RSPB to provide habitats for the twite in Derbyshire and for the turtle dove in Warwickshire. The company is managing hay meadows and creating conditions on the sites to allow pioneer plant species more usually associated with arable land to flourish and to provide seeds for the birds to feed on at critical times of the year. The turtle dove project is part of an international initiative by CEMEX with partners Birdlife in France and Spain.

The winner of the Planned Biodiversity award was Smith & Sons of Bletchington for their extension to Gill Mill Quarry in West Oxfordshire. The restoration plan includes the creation of 120 hectares of priority habitats, including 60 hectares of reed beds, one of the largest reed beds in southern England. It will also include extensive new public access and a number of eco-lodges to benefit the local economy and provide revenue for the sustainable management of the planned nature reserve. The judges were particularly impressed by the scale and ambition of the project, and the fact that the design reflects the views of conservation bodies, the local community, the local authority and the Ministry of Defence. The site lies under the flight path of RAF Brize Norton and the extensive reed beds will help to reduce the risk of bird strike for aircraft whilst providing habitat for rare species including the bittern, water vole and otter. The scheme also makes a landscape-scale contribution to the wider Windrush Valley and helps to manage flood risk.

Chris Pennock of Tarmac won the Individual Contribution category in biodiversity for his work at Nosterfield Quarry in North Yorkshire. He has a particular interest in the black poplar which has led him to develop partnerships with the local council and conservation groups to help conserve this theatened species and propagate trees for planting in the quarry. He has also been instrumental in the management of the site and educating people about the quarry and its wildlife.

The Mineral Products Association also presented Special Awards for outstanding contributions to quarry restoration, which included an award to the Hills Group, Hanson UK, the Cullimore Group, Aggregate Industries and Tarmac for their contribution to the restoration of the Cotswold Water Park in Gloucestershire. The MPA says the area is larger than the Norfolk Broads and collectively forms a major asset for wildlife conservation and recreation.

“Biodiversity underpins the country’s Natural Capital”

The live presentations at the event were complemented by on-screen video footage of the winning sites. This year also saw the launch of a Nature Photo competition. Speakers at the event included Natural England’s Strategy and Reform Officer, Alan Law, who said: “We are delighted to be working with the Mineral Products Association again on this year’s Landscape-Scale Biodiversity Award. The award always attracts fantastic examples of companies working in partnership with others to enhance and build the network of places supporting our wildlife. This brings to life the vision to make places better for wildlife, making them bigger, creating more and joining them up… Biodiversity underpins the country’s Natural Capital and so the landscape-scale projects led by minerals companies are not only enhancing wildlife, but also building the local Natural Capital.”

Tony Juniper, well-known environmental campaigner and long-standing member of Friends of the Earth, also spoke at the event. He said a number of industries have realised that they have a key role to play in nature conservation and restoration and are demonstrating how it is possible, through some thoughtful planning and modest investment of resources, to achieve really outstanding results. “Mineral products companies in the Mineral Products Association are among the real leaders,” he said.

For the full list of awards, see the Mineral Products Association website.


Photograph: Pool at Middleton Lakes RSPB Nature Reserve, near Drayton Bassett, Staffordshire © Copyright Graham Taylor and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence. Hanson UK won the prestigious Cooper-Heyman Cup at the 2015 MPA Awards for restoring the former gravel pits at Middleton Hall Quarry. Part of the land was bought by the RSPB in 2007 and is now an RSPB nature reserve. The judges said of the project: “The project at the 470 hectare site has produced a mix of football pitches, reed beds, woodland, pasture and fishing.”

Blackpool’s twenty-year coastal defence strategy nears completion

A 1km sea wall at Anchorsholme expected to be finished this autumn

Oct 16th 2015

Blackpool Council is approaching the completion of a twenty-year coastal defence strategy, which has seen the transformation of a 3km stretch of its famous promenade and the building of a new sea wall in what the Council describes as Blackpool’s largest ever civil engineering project to date. Blackpool Council adopted a Coast Protection Strategy in 1995, and the final stage of the strategy is a flood risk management scheme for the Anchorsholme area of Blackpool, which forms part of the Fylde Peninsula Coastal Programme.

The Fylde Peninsula Coastal Programme also includes a flood risk management scheme for the Rossall area of Fleetwood and the Environment Agency says both areas have a long history of sea flooding, the north-west coast being prone to flooding during tidal surges when seawater overspills the current flood defences and floods low-lying properties. Both areas are also at risk of sewage flooding from the United Utilities sewage pumping station which forms part of the sea wall at Anchorsholme. The Environment Agency says there are 3,700 properties at risk of flooding in the Anchorsholme area of Blackpool and 10,510 properties at risk of flooding in the Rossall area of Fleetwood, whilst roads and tramways are frequently flooded causing temporary road closures. The most recent incidents were the winter storms of December 2013 when a major tidal surge battered the north-west coast.

The Fylde Peninsula Coastal Programme is a partnership between the Environment Agency, Blackpool Council, Wyre Council (which includes Fleetwood), Fylde Council, Lancashire County Council and United Utilities. The programme secured £86 million from the Government with Defra (Department for the Environment, Food & Rural Affairs) and the Environment Agency formally approving the funding in October 2013. £22 million was allocated to a flood risk management scheme for Anchorsholme and £64 million to Rossall. A third area of the coastline has also been identified as requiring substantial work; this area stretches 3km from Fairhaven Lake to Lytham in the Lytham St Anne’s area. Blackpool Council says the Fylde Peninsula Programme of new coastal defences is one of the largest flood defence programmes in the UK.

The general plan for both Blackpool and Fleetwood is to refurbish the existing sea walls and promenades to a level that reduces the current risk of sea flooding and the risk from predicted sea level rise. The Agency says this will reduce the risk of flooding to over 14,000 homes and businesses on the north-west coast and also protect local roads, the tramway network, the United Utilities sewage pumping station and public utilities. The new sea defences will also provide an improved promenade and recreational areas.

Construction work on the schemes began in April 2014, with Balfour Beatty appointed as the main contractor to develop the coastal defences at Anchorsholme and Rossall. At Rossall, a 2km sea wall is under construction between Rossall Hospital and Rossall Point, with the project expected to be finished by the end of 2017. Wyre Council says rocks weighing from three to seven tons have been used at Rossall to construct a series of rock groynes, 18 in all. The rock groynes, 75 metres long, will help retain the beach material along the foreshore and also encourage the beach to build up in height. The rocks remove a significant amount of energy from the incoming tide, whilst high beach levels help to reduce the height of waves that can be generated during a storm. As well as the rock groynes, further defences including the use of steel and concrete are also being implemented. For a collection of photographs that record the progress of the scheme, see Balfour Beatty’s Coastal Defence Project.

At Anchorsholme, a 1km sea wall between Kingsway and Little Bispham is expected to be finished this autumn, which will mark the end of Blackpool Council’s twenty-year coastal defence strategy. For more information, see the Blackpool Council website.


Photograph: The beach and promenade at South Shore, Blackpool. © Copyright Steve Daniels and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Severn Trent finalises plans for the Birmingham Resilience Project

Severn Trent expects to submit a planning application in January 2016 for its plans to construct an alternative water supply for Birmingham

Oct 15th 2015

Severn Trent Water has been holding a number of consultations in the past twelve months on its plans to develop an alternative water supply for Birmingham. Birmingham’s water supply is mostly provided by the Elan Valley Aqueduct which has been supplying water to the city and surrounding area for the last 100 years. However, the aqueduct is showing signs of deterioration and Severn Trent says that maintenance through its regular repairs and maintenance programme will become more costly and difficult as the aqueduct continues to age.

The ‘Birmingham Resilience Project’ will see the aqueduct taken offline for a complete refurbishment whilst an alternative water supply will transport water to Birmingham via a new pipeline linking an abstraction site on the River Severn to Frankley Water Treatment Works. The abstraction site is located at Lickhill near Stourport-on-Severn. An extension to the Frankley treatment works will treat water delivered through the new pipeline before putting it into supply. The pipeline will provide a back-up supply of water to the city during the refurbishment of the aqueduct, which Severn Trent says will be out of action for 40 days – see our news story “Severn Trent outlines Birmingham Resilience Project” for more details of the plans.

Following the last twelve month’s consultations, the route of the proposed 16-mile pipeline has now been finalised and Severn Trent is planning to submit a planning application in January 2016. As a prelude to its submission, it will be holding a further series of public exhibitions at a number of locations across the route of the pipeline, displaying its updated proposals. The consultations start on Monday October 19th and run through November.

Simon Hinsley, Severn Trent’s Resilience Manager, said: “Having consulted widely in the past year, we’re very conscious of our responsibilities to the people who would be directly affected by these proposals. This is why we hope they will continue to be involved and come and talk to us about our finalised route alignment and updated proposals. Following this round of consultation, we’ll submit our planning application to the relevant authorities in January 2016.”

Severn Trent has made a commitment to Ofwat to deliver the project by March 2020. Water and Wastewater Treatment reports that the project is expected to cost £242 million.

For the latest news on Severn Trent’s plans, see “Birmingham Resilience Project – Severn Trent Water”.


Photograph: Elan Valley Aqueduct © Copyright Ian Capper and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence. “Although most of the Elan Aqueduct through Bringewood is buried, here it crosses Deepwood Dingle in this impressive stone built multi-arch bridge.”