Atkins helps keep floods at bay

Much needed flood defences for the picturesque Devon villages of Shaldon and Ringmore are under way in a project managed by Atkins and constructed by Interserve.

Work has now started on the flood defence wall along the Teign Estuary that will protect the picturesque South Devon villages of Shaldon and Ringmore from potentially devastating floods. The project was granted planning permission with unanimous support from Teignbridge District Council’s development control committee.

The £8.4M tidal defence scheme, which has been funded by Defra, will protect over 400 commercial and residential properties from a 1-in-1000 (0.1%) annual chance tidal event. It has been designed and is being project managed by Atkins with Interserve carrying out the construction.

The new defences will stretch from the slipway at Ringmore to the Ness end of the Strand Promenade and replace the current defences, some of which are 200 years old. The project includes raising 940m of existing foreshore walls and rebuilding a further 340 metres. A new 130m long wall is being erected at Shaldon Beach and eight floodgates with steps and ramps will be installed to allow access to the beach.

The scheme highlights the critical role of the public consultation process in agreeing sensitive flooding schemes. As with so many of the areas in the UK at risk of flooding, Shaldon is a beauty spot.

Any flood defence work must be sympathetic to the visual environment and the needs of the community as well as providing essential protection. Public engagement has helped residents and businesses understand the need for the project and feed in to its planning and development.

Minimal impact

“We all know how devastating flooding can be and the defences here at Shaldon are going to provide much needed protection. However, we need to make sure that it is in-keeping with the local surroundings and that the work has minimal impact on the area, which is a haven for holidaymakers,” says Steve Barge, project manager at Atkins.

“We’ve worked closely with the Environment Agency and local interest groups to ensure that the community understands how the scheme will impact upon them, to listen and respond to their concerns and to develop a scheme that’s aesthetically sensitive to the village setting.”

The construction of the flood wall has been scheduled to avoid the busiest times of year for the tourism industry, thereby avoiding causing major disruption during the peak holiday season.

Initial work will be concentrated in the centre of Shaldon and all stretches of wall will be faced with stone in time for the peak season.

“The timetable has been carefully considered and stone-facing on the lengths of wall being constructed now will be complete by the start of summer,” says Mark Kingdom, who is managing the project for the Environment Agency.

“The visual identity of Shaldon is critical to the health of the local economy and residents because of the importance of the tourism industry here.

“We have scheduled our work so there will be no unsightly stretches of half-finished walls to see.

During the summer, work will move away from the beach to areas upstream of the bridge. At the end of summer we can return to working at the beach areas.”

Natural habitat

The tidal defences have also been designed to fit in with the conservation area.

The reinforced concrete in the walls will be faced with red sandstone or blue limestone to blend in with the stonework of the existing sea defences and the scheme will actually enhance the natural habitat for wildlife.

With the installation of steps up from the beach over the flood walls, for example, small pipes are being built in at beach level to provide hiding places for crabs and other marine life.

It is anticipated that the scheme will be completed by the summer of 2011.

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