The British coast’s newest and largest natural flood defense scheme, carried out by Team Van Oord on behalf of the Environment Agency, has proved its worth by comfortably fending off the biggest tides in more than a decade.
Located next to the Severn Estuary, the Steart Coastal Management Project will help protect homes and businesses from flooding due to climate change and rising sea levels, and has established a new nature reserve.
A new channel was created to deliberately flood 300 hectares (740 acres) of land to provide much-needed habitat for wading birds and wildfowl, and for water voles and great crested newts.
‘Steart Marshes’, now managed by the Wildfowl & Wetland Trust (WWT), provides a natural buffer between houses and the tides of the Bristol Channel, which are the second biggest in the world. On a high autumn tide the marshes hold around 4.2 million cubic meters of water, sufficient to fill the Albert Hall 50 times over.
In July 2015, the Steart project picked up the top award in the ICE South West Civil Engineering Awards–the Members Award, which gives ICE members the chance to choose their favorite project of the year.
The scheme has also been shortlisted in the BCI Awards 2015 (Major Civil Engineering Project of the Year category) which will be presented on 15 October at Grosvenor House Hotel in London in front of an audience of more than 1,200 industry key players.
In April 2015, the scheme won an Environment Agency Project Excellence Award; in 2013 it received a ‘Gold’ Green Apple Award and won the Environment Agency’s Health, Safety and Environmental Exemplar Award.