With climate change placing increasing pressure on budgets for flood alleviation schemes, and other measures to increase resilience, it is vital clients can access innovative funding models to ensure communities are protected. It’s equally vital that such projects engage fully with the people they protect and create a legacy that provides multiple, sustainable benefits for the community. This is precisely what our environmental consulting team achieved with Connecting Burton and the Trent Washlands: A New Vision.
Working collaboratively with our client the Environment Agency, Black & Veatch’s landscape architects led the project which provided the key to unlock the environmental and community value of a 630-hectare area of undeveloped floodplain – the Washlands - in Burton-upon-Trent, Staffordshire, England.
Landscape design: realising the vision
The goal was to produce a strategic landscape vision which would improve the Washlands as a space for both people and nature by enhancing biodiversity; creating more accessible and legible links between the town and the Washlands; and providing interpretation and education on the range of habitats found throughout the floodplain. There was also a need to establish the sustainability of potential solutions.
Key to the project was engaging with stakeholders and partners and developing an ambitious, sustainable but achievable shared vision that reflected their strategies and aspirations, and the aspirations of the wider public. In an example of our digital transformation of environmental services, this work culminated in the interactive sharing of information via a digital StoryMap.
“The landscape vision for the Burton Washlands enabled the landscape to be looked at holistically and will maximise the value of the Washlands for people and wildlife. It has created a process of dialogue and collaboration across disciplines and organisations,” according to Tim Brooks, Environment Planning Specialist, Environment Agency.
Evaluating natural capital
In a further example of digital transformation, our environmental consultants’ Ecosystem Services Valuation enabled data-driven judgements where the relative benefits and value of proposals could be compared and understood by the layperson, using a unique 3D digital visualisation tool. The Ecosystem Services Valuation exceeded client and project partner expectations and helped secure funding of more than £2.5 million within 6 months for implementation of key works on the ground.
Our environmental services support also included creating a Natural Capital Register, identifying and evaluating habitat types, in order to prioritise enhancements.
The quality of these early phases of the project, especially the landscape design and landscape architecture elements, secured the team a UK Landscape Institute Award.
“There is a growing need to match project funding through partnership contributions from local communities and business. Thus the need to build consensus about a project’s scope, execution and wider legacy is increasing. Our award-winning strategy at Burton typifies the innovative approach that can underpin investment in all critical infrastructure projects. It demonstrates our ability to support clients to deliver a wider legacy of environmental and social net gain” says Matt Clegg, director of Black & Veatch’s environmental consulting business in Europe.
One of the things that sets our environmental consultants apart is the ability to add value at every point along the infrastructure lifecycle. Having helped develop a consensus around a vision for the Washlands, and unlock funding to help realise that vision, the landscape architect-led team undertook detailed design of the enhancements and new assets. During the next phase of the infrastructure lifecycle the team will be supporting the delivery of the environmental improvements on the ground.
Awards and achievements at a glance
- Winner, Landscape Institute Awards 2018
- Shortlisted in NEC100 Awards 2019
- Shortlisted in CIEEM Awards 2020