London marine freight specialist Walsh has begun removing more than one million tonnes of tunnel spoil arising from the eastern leg of the capital’s super sewer scheme this week.

The material coming from Tideway’s Eastern section, from Bermondsey to Stratford, is being transported down river to a pioneering wildlife habitat creation scheme being delivered by leading wet civil engineering company Land & Water.

Walsh, in partnership with Land & Water, is carrying out the major muck-shift and restoration scheme – believed to be the biggest project of its kind on the Thames – for Eastern section joint venture delivery partners Costain, Vinci Construction Grands Projets and Bachy Soletanche (CVB).

Over the next 14-months, chalk and clay from Tideway sites at Chambers Wharf, Greenwich Pumping Station and King Edward Memorial Park Foreshore in Shadwell are being loaded onto Walsh river barges for transport to the Land & Water restoration project at Rainham Marshes.

Using river freight for the scheme is helping to reduce road congestion by keeping around 100,000 lorry movements off London’s streets, producing a fraction of the carbon dioxide and other emissions compared to road haulage. The material is helping to create much needed habitat for wildlife along the Thames Corridor, enhancing local ecology and increasing biodiversity.

Joe Gifford, Walsh Managing Director, said: “We’re extremely proud to be playing such an important role in the delivery of the Thames Tideway Tunnel. The Walsh marine business is uniquely positioned to move materials to and from major infrastructure schemes that support development and regeneration in London. The fact that we have such a huge capability to move freight by river means that we can add real value to major projects like Tideway, especially when spoil can be put to good use in land restoration elsewhere along the river.”

Tom Melhuish, Project Manager at Land & Water, said: “Having already received over 450,000 tonnes of material from the west section of Tideway, we are looking forward to supporting the tunnel drive from the east section. This will enable us to make significant progress with our restoration at Rainham, helping to create an oasis for wildlife. The Tideway project has highlighted not only how the River Thames can be used as a sustainable and reliable transport system but also shown the benefits of re-using waste to create substantial new habitats and foster biodiversity.”

To ensure successful delivery of the project, Walsh made major investments in its marine fleet worth almost £6 million, including the state-of-the-art Damen CS2010 pusher tug (SWS Endeavour) which went into service at the end of 2020 and the adaptable Damen Multi Cat 1908 (SWS Endurance) delivered in 2019. Along with the existing fleet, and eight new barges, the new vessels ensure the Walsh fleet is the largest and most versatile of its kind on the Thames, operated by a highly skilled 25-strong crew.

As London’s premier provider of bulk material freight solutions, Walsh has already shifted more than 600,000 tonnes of material from other parts of the 25km Tideway project. Another company of the GRS Group, RFS (a joint venture with construction materials producer Aggregate Industries), is carrying out all the spoil handling from Tideway sites onto Walsh barges.

Land & Water first became involved in the Tideway project in January 2018, supporting the transportation and unloading of clay from the main drive site for the west section at Carnwath Road in Fulham. On that part of the scheme the use of river barges prevented over 25,000 lorry movements from the roads of London transporting 850,000 tonnes of material to Land & Water’s Jetty at Coldharbour Lane. This demonstrates Land & Water’s ongoing commitment to implementing forward-thinking solutions which reduce carbon and benefit eco-systems.

  • The Thames Tideway Tunnel recently won Infrastructure Project of the Year in the ‘edie’ 2021 Sustainability Leaders Awards. The awards’ judges said: “Despite its scale, Tideway has integrated environmental and social impacts into its core approach from day one, championing a number of innovative approaches which really push the boundaries and to show a positive way forward for future infrastructure projects.”

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