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Best in the South East

25 July 2011

Costain has won the Thomas Brassey Award, given annually by the Institution of Civil Engineers for the best overall project in South East England.

The 4Delivery (4D) consortium that includes Costain, Veolia and MWH, took the title for its work in expanding sewerage network capacity in Canterbury with minimal disruption to the historic city centre.

Canterbury’s population, of just under 50,000, is due to rise by around 20% over the next four years due to a surge in housebuilding. All the City’s wastewater flows drain to the main wastewater treatment works (WTW) and there was concern from provider Southern Water that with the growth in households sewerage capacity would be insufficient, leading to a risk of flooding and overflows into the River Stour.

Southern Water had originally planned to build 4.4km of additional trunk sewer to the WTW. This would have meant laying large-diameter sewers throughout the city centre and main shopping areas, creating widespread disruption.

Instead, 4D proposed an alternative involving a new offline pumping station that would pass wastewater flows to the WTW, an additional 2,500m³ of storm tank storage at the WTW, plus 900m³ of offline, underground storage located in the catchment area.

The pumping station would drive water from the trunk sewers along a new, 650-metre pipe into the new storm tank storage, from where it could gradually be released into the WTW as the peak storm flow subsided.

A critical early hurdle to overcome was the completion by the end of November 2009 of a 15-metre diameter, 10-metre deep shaft for the new storm tank, to allow Canterbury Theatre Society to erect a marquee adjacent to the site in which to stage pantomime.

Failure to have completed the shaft in time would have resulted in having to stop major works for two months, with inevitable cost implications.

Another complication was negotiating a compensation package with tenants living on a local travellers’ campsite, through which the pipeline had to run.

Construction work on the £11.5million project began in October 2009 and was handed over, on schedule, to Southern Water in November 2010. The project came in under budget and without a single lost-time accident or environmental incident in 85,000 man hours. With 4D donating 30p for every safely worked man-day, this resulted in two local charities – Canterbury Sea Cadets and the Ataxia-Telangiectasia Society (which seeks a cure for this neuro-degenerative disease) – each receiving more than £1,000.

To win the Brassey Award, a project must have delivered benefits for the community through the application of a range of engineering principles; innovative design and construction techniques; enhancement of the surrounding environment; and with no injuries to the workforce.


* The full citation for the successful project is shown below:

The overall Thomas Brassey Award recognises the best project in the Branch and was named after that most eminent 19th century Civil Engineer.
We choose to name our Engineering Excellence Awards in his memory, both because of his tremendous impact on civil infrastructure across the world - from railways, to marine telegraphy, to water supply and sewage systems - and because he lived in our Branch area towards the end of his career.
To claim the award, a project must have delivered benefits for the community at large through the application of a range of engineering principles - coupled with innovative design and construction techniques - to ensure that the surrounding environment is enhanced - whilst protecting the workforce with an impeccable health and safety record.
This must be achieved within the constraints of both budget and programme.
The verdict from the judges was, for once, unanimous and there was a clear winner, scoring highly in all of the judging categories.
The Winner of the Thomas Brassey Award is Canterbury Growth Scheme.
This £11.5million project has increased sewerage network capacity in Canterbury and reduced the risk of flooding and pollution as the City continues to grow. The original proposals, to construct over 4 kilometres of new sewers, were value engineered by the project team and delivered significantly under budget. They decided to reuse the existing network and construct new offline storage capacity. In doing so, they saved money, avoided massive disruption and preserved the historic streets and the archaeology of Canterbury. Health and safety was always a top priority and was rewarded with a perfect safety record – not a single lost time accident. The project supported the local community - donating money to local charities – and supported local third sector organisations in addition to delivering direct benefits to residents. The projects value engineering not only reduced costs but delivered environmental benefits too – a 75% reduction in CO2 over the life cycle of the scheme."