Wisbech flood defence scheme scoops national award

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A five-year scheme to improve Wisbech’s flood defences has scooped a prestigious regional award.

Cambridgeshire County Council’s £2.8 million project to improve the Freedom Bridge retaining wall, carried out under contract by Skanska and Breheny, picked up the infra-structure award at the annual RICS Awards East of England.

It will now go forward to the RICS Awards Grand Final on October 16 at the The Dorchester Hotel, London.

The retaining wall project, a 313 metre flood defence scheme along the River Nene, was completed last February.

It addressed the shortcomings of the pre-existing structure whilst also increasing flood defence levels to protect the town centre, even allowing for global warming.

It means the town now has a one in 200 year protection for flood risk, compared to the previous one in 50 year protection.

A statement submitted by Skanska as part of the project’s competition entry said: “The River Nene posed some significant risks during construction as it’s a deep, fast flowing navigable river with a tidal range of approximately 6m.”

It added: “The structure retains the B198, one of the main arterial routes into the town centre, and comprises steel sheet pile and reinforced concrete walls tied back to buried anchor blocks. The retained height is up to 7m and the existing steel parapets form part of the town’s flood defences.”

Steve Dighton, business development manager for J Breheny and former bridge manager for Cambridgeshire County Council, said: “This is a great result for everyone involved. From the outset it was going to be a 10-year project, but was condensed down to five years and there is now one final phase to complete this summer.”

He explained the project was completed despite numerous constraints, including the seven metre tidal rise and fall of the Nene – the third largest in the UK.