Jackson Civil Engineering recently completed work on a £4.5m flood alleviation scheme in Steeple Bumpstead, Essex, which was officially opened by Brooks Newmark MP and Charles Beardall of the Environment Agency, at an official ceremony held in July.
Steeple Bumpstead is a flood risk area because two brooks, from Bumpstead and Helions Bumpstead, meet in the village. Following periods of heavy rainfall in 2007 and 2009, the brooks burst their banks, and numerous houses in the village were flooded. Chairman of the Steeple Bumpstead Flood Action Committee, Dave Croft commented at the time: "The emotional turmoil and levels of anxiety are so high, not just when it floods, but pretty much every time it rains. You can't put a cash amount on that. It damages people's lives."
Following these flood events, work began in February 2013 to re-profile sections of each channel, and included the replacement of six river crossings, including footbridges, road bridges and a ford.
During construction, ICE Director General Nick Baveystock visited the project as it was the first project in the East of England to champion the ICE's 'This is Civil Engineering' campaign, a national initiative to illustrate the importance of civil engineering to the public, and the effect it has on our every day lives. The project was a great example for the campaign, as it combined a variety of construction methods with challenging conditions, restricted access, and a very strong public interface. Furthermore, during the heavy rainfall and flooding in February 2014 the improved flood defences, which were only partially completed, were put to the test, and successfully protected homes in the village from flooding. real and tangible impact on the residents of Steeple Bumpstead, successfully protecting their homes from flooding during the recent heavy rainfall in February 2014.
As Jackson Civil Engineering Regional Manager, Stephen Christian explains: "This project really was civil engineering. From a construction point of view we had demolition, reinforced concrete structures, drainage, road construction, bank protection, brick walls and fencing, working in the watercourse both with and against nature, landscaping work in residents' back gardens, and all whilst causing as little disruption as possible to the everyday lives of the residents, and ensuring the flow of the brook was unhindered, especially during flood conditions."
Although the project was warmly welcomed by local residents, with an 18 month programme, and a restricted construction area, the project team were very conscious of the disruption that would inevitably be caused to the local residents during construction, and tried wherever possible to mitigate this. For example, one of the road bridges that needed replacing was on the school bus route, and closure of this during term-time would have resulted in a 16 mile diversion for the school bus. The project team listened to the concerns of local residents, and devised a method of demolition and reconstruction that could be carried out during the 6 week Summer break, so the school children were not affected.
Stephen said: "This project was about protecting people's homes and giving the residents of Steeple Bumpstead the chance to have a good nights' sleep – without worrying about the possibility of waking up to flooded roads, gardens and worst of all flooded homes. However, all the hard work and careful planning has really been worthwhile and we will be leaving the village peaceful and more attractive than when we arrived, with the brooks remaining firmly in the watercourse and not threatening peoples' livelihoods. In the case of this project, civil engineering has had a direct and positive impact on the public."
Adrian Burr, the current Chairman of the Flood Action Committee said that residents could finally sleep easy at night: "The scheme has very much succeeded in doing what it was supposed to do. Not one house was flooded during the recent floods and it has made a great difference to the lives of everyone in the village."