Project Excellence accolade for coastal management scheme

The UK’s biggest coastal management scheme, on the Steart Peninsula in Somerset, has been named winner of a prestigious Environment Agency Project Excellence Award.

The £21m Steart Coastal Management Project, carried out by Team Van Oord on behalf of the Environment Agency, will help protect homes and businesses from flooding due to climate change and rising sea levels, and has established a new nature reserve.

The Project Excellence Awards recognise excellent project work undertaken by the Environment Agency and its partners. For 2015 there were 53 individual projects entered across seven different categories, representing a total of 107 submissions. The finalists presented to the judging panel on 16 March.

As well as winning the ‘Sustainable Resource Management’ category, the Steart project was also a finalist in two other categories: ‘Managing Health, Safety & Environmental Risk’, and ‘Programme & Project Delivery’.

Jeremy Walker, Environment Agency Board Member, said: “Once again the high standard of entries made the judging task very challenging. The wide range and sheer quality of projects has been very impressive.

“The increasing evidence of solid and effective partnership working provides great confidence for how we need to operate in the future. Congratulations to all the teams”.

Another panel member, David Balmforth, President of the Institution of Civil Engineers, said: “I was particularly impressed by the wide range of areas where innovation had been clearly demonstrated, and there were plenty of examples where teams had ‘gone the extra mile’ to get their projects completed in difficult circumstances. Those winning awards this year can be proud that they have achieved the very highest standards.”

The Steart Coastal Management Project is located next to the Severn Estuary on the Steart Peninsular. It is surrounded by internationally and nationally designated nature conservation areas forming part of the Severn Estuary Special Protection Area (SPA), Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

Under the project, 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.

The Environment Agency has national and international obligations to create intertidal habitat on the Severn Estuary to compensate for losses that are expected due to coastal squeeze, and the Steart Coastal Management Project will provide 40% of the required offset habitat for the area.

This is not the first accolade the scheme has received. In 2013 Team Van Oord received a ‘Gold’ Green Apple Award for its work on the Steart Peninsular, and earlier the same year the project won the Environment Agency’s Health, Safety and Environmental Exemplar Award.

A year earlier, in 2012, following a visit by an assessor from the Considerate Constructors Scheme, the Steart project was deemed an “exceptionally good site” having achieved a score of 37 out of a maximum of 40 points.

15 April 2015