Leading inland and coastal waterways civil engineering specialists, Land & Water, has completed its works at Colchester Hospital to regenerate the lake within the grounds on behalf of client East Suffolk & North Essex NHS Foundation Trust.

The project, which began in summer 2020, was part of a collaborative group venture between Land & Water Services and Terraqua Environmental Solutions (TES) to remove all the water from the lake so that the accumulated silt could be dredged and a new liner fitted.

The wet silt was sent to be reused at Land & Water’s habitat creation scheme at Rainham Marshes, which aims to encourage greater areas of greenery along the Thames Corridor whilst creating an oasis for wildlife.

Land & Water’s work at Rainham is a significant project that is the result of close collaboration between the PLA (Port of London Authority), RSPB and Natural England and uses redundant, non-hazardous waste to create landforms which will maintain the SSSI status of the site whilst increasing biodiversity in the East London corridor. This forms part of the company’s wider commitment to the local environment through removing, reusing, and recycling dredged materials to enhance the ecology of the areas it works in.

It also coincides with Land & Water’s ongoing commitment to achieving a disposal policy of less than 10 percent. In fact, the habitat creation scheme at Rainham will see the company operating the 152 hectares of silt lagoons until 2042 and will result in over six million tons of wet and dry spoil material being repurposed to benefit local ecology. This material will not only form the basis of the new landform but is shaped so that the site will collect rainwater to create the wetlands and provide 1,000,000m2 of valuable habitat.

Bill Gush, Non-Executive Director at Land & Water, says: “As Land & Water looks to safeguard the future of our planet for the next generation, Rainham Marshes is a forward-thinking project that allows us to reengineer spoil from the Thames and Medway catchments areas to improve the environment around us.

“Having access to this innovative solution whilst we work on sites, such as the lake regeneration at Colchester Hospital, allows us to minimise disposal to normal landfills and protect ecosystems providing huge benefits to our clients and the environment.”

Land & Water Services, along with TES, also supplied and laid a new lake liner, liner protection, and installed air diffusers on the bed of the lake to oxygenate the water, improving water quality and reducing algae and bacteria which may be harmful to aquatic wildlife.

This innovative civil engineering firm prides itself on having the specialist knowledge and equipment to work in areas with sensitive habitats. As a result, fish living in the Colchester lake were rehomed safely and temporary paddling pools erected for ducks and wildfowl to use whilst the works were underway.

As part of the project, maintenance services were also carried out to the footpaths around the lake, which included the installation of benches for hospital visitors to sit and enjoy the view of the water and surrounding landscape.

Bill Gush continues: “We are very pleased to have delivered yet another successful project, which was completed within the client’s budget despite the inevitable disruption caused by COVID-19.”

“Initially we had some challenges to overcome, namely the access to the pond, as tree roots had grown along the old liner since it was previously installed. This made it quite challenging to use heavy machinery without damaging the trees. However, we collaborated with the client to agree a solution and the team worked hard to complete the project.”

Land & Water Services often collaborates with the different arms of the Land & Water Group during projects across the UK. This allows the business to uniquely and effectively harness different specialisms in order to maintain and improve the UK’s diverse waterways whilst using its expertise to keep water bodies across the country navigable, functional and in the best ecological health.

Another recent example of a joint venture project undertaken with TES includes the restoration of Southmere Lake in Thamesmead, SE London, which saw environmental enhancements made to a large community lake. This included the creation of five large floating islands, reed beds and wetlands as part of wider regeneration plans in the area from client Peabody.

In acknowledgement of this project and its services overseeing the lake restoration, Land & Water Group received an honourable ‘Performance beyond Compliance’ recognition on behalf of the Considerate Constructors Scheme. The team met specific criteria which included ‘Respect the Community’, ‘Protect the Environment’, ‘Secure everyone’s Safety’ and ‘Protect their Workforce’, highlighting even further how the different areas of the firm are committed towards working together to enhance and conserve the areas in which it works.

About Land & Water

Land & Water is an award-winning inland waterway and coastal civil and environmental engineering company based in the UK. Throughout their 40-year history, their name has become synonymous with finding creative and effective solutions to complex challenges in the specialist environment where land and water meet. Often working in varied and sensitive habitats, their work is always completed with sympathy to the local surroundings, people and the environment.