Sea defence project wins award

WESTON’S multi-million pound sea defence scheme has won a national accolade.

The project was chosen as the winner in the small and medium sized firms category in ACE’s 2011 Infrastructure Award.

North Somerset Council worked in partnership with engineering and environmental consultancy Royal Haskoning to ensure the scheme provides vital coastal flood protection for the town’s 4,500 low-lying properties.

The project included improving the appearance of the seafront and the organisations involved say tourism has been given a welcome boost – with 40 per cent more visitors to the town since the work was completed.

The scheme received grant funding of almost �27.5million from Defra’s Flood Defence Grant in Aid, and was the first in the UK to go through the Environment Agency’s procurement system.

Rachel Lewis, of North Somerset Council, said: “Feedback from the Weston community and visitors has been overwhelmingly positive.

“Thanks to the vision of the project team and the support of the Environment Agency, this sea defence project will provide a lasting legacy for the town and ensure that its inhabitants and businesses are protected from flooding now and into the future.”

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Hamish Hall, of Royal Haskoning, said: “By positioning the new defences at the rear of the promenade, we created a wider pedestrian area that could be separated by the splash-wall from the busy seafront road.

“This has created a safe space for pedestrians and cyclists and has dramatically enhanced the experience for people visiting the seafront.

“Pedestrian access onto the promenade is maintained and controlled through a series of entrances fitted with flood gates.

“Although predominately a flood defence scheme, the team has taken the opportunity to enhance the seafront.

“The project’s contribution to the regeneration of the town is clearly visible - through increased visitors and increasing investment in businesses and properties.”