£6.5 million flood defence scheme complete in Hexham

Left to Right: Tristan Drought (Environment Agency), Guy Opperman MP, Donald Daly (Arup), Gareth Farrier (BAM) and Amanda McKevitt (Environment Agency)

A £6.5million Northumberland scheme that reduces the devastating impact of flooding is complete.

The Hexham Flood Alleviation Scheme better protects up to 90 businesses at two key industrial estates at risk from the Rivers Tyne and Skinnersburn.

Both rivers have a long history of flooding, notably causing considerable damage and disruption at the Bridge End and Tyne Mills Industrial Estates on 5 December 2015 during Storm Desmond.

The scheme was formally opened on 7 September by Guy Opperman MP at an official ribbon cutting event attended by the key members of the community and partners who helped to bring the scheme to completion.

The new defences, a combination of flood walls and grass embankments, will help to protect one of the town’s most important commercial areas, providing increased job security by protecting the places people work, keeping businesses open and supporting the wider local economy.

On the south bank, at Tyne Mills, 300 metres of new flood defence has been constructed from east of the Northumbrian Water Peth Head Pumping Station and along the edge of the Northumberland County Council yard, crossing the Skinnersburn and tying into high ground.

On the north bank, at Bridge End, 370 metres of new flood defence has been created from the existing flood embankment behind Egger UK Ltd to the former Reiver Sports site, where it crosses the site and ties into high ground in the northwest corner.

As well as reducing flood risk, the scheme has also been cutting carbon by trialling the use of two innovative mixes of low-carbon concretes for the first time in the UK. The climate-friendly low carbon mix has been used across two panels of the defences, totalling 27 metres.

Leila Huntington, Environment Agency Operations Manager, said:

“We are delighted that the £6.5 million flood scheme at Hexham is now complete, reducing the flood risk to 90 properties, ahead of winter this year.

“For those affected by flooding, the impact can be catastrophic and life changing. We hope these defences will bring peace of mind to everybody living and working in the area and will for many years to come.”

Guy Opperman MP for Tynedale and Ponteland said:

“Storm Desmond had a devastating impacting on businesses in Hexham. This scheme will restore confidence by giving improved protection to those properties while supporting economic prosperity and protecting jobs in the town.

“With a Government contribution of £5.7m, this is part of a record £5.2 billion investment in flood defences across the country from 2021 to 2027, to help communities be better prepared for the impacts of climate change.”

BAM and Arup were delivery partners on the scheme, working on the design and construction of the defences, whilst Northumberland County Council helped to provide additional funding.

Gareth Farrier, Divisional Director at BAM, said:

“It has been fantastic to support the Environment Agency in the delivery of these vital flood defences in Hexham. The success of the scheme is the result of the incredible collaboration between the Environment Agency, Arup, BAM and our suppliers which has delivered not only long-term flood protection for the town, but also a pioneering low-carbon concrete design.”

Donald Daly, Associate at Arup said:

“The scheme’s use of low carbon concrete demonstrates the innovation now possible for climate resilience interventions. Arup has been privileged to support the Environment Agency in reducing the risk of flooding to Hexham while also reducing the embodied carbon of grey infrastructure, enabling net zero and resilience agendas to work hand in hand.”

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