BAM completes pioneering low carbon flood defence scheme in Hexham


BAM has completed a £6.5 million Environment Agency scheme to protect up to 90 businesses from flooding in the historical town of Hexham. 

As well as reducing flood risk, the scheme pioneered the use of two ultra-low-carbon concrete alternatives for the first time in the UK, paving the way for the future use of new sustainable concrete products in flood defences.

The scheme was formally opened on 7 September by Guy Opperman MP at an official ribbon-cutting event attended by the key members of the community and partners who helped to bring the scheme to completion.

It better protects up to 90 businesses in Hexham, at two key industrial estates at risk from the Rivers Tyne and Skinnersburn. Both rivers have a long history of flooding, notably causing considerable damage and disruption at the Bridge End and Tyne Mills Industrial Estates on 5 December 2015 during Storm Desmond.

The new defences, a combination of flood walls and grass embankments, will help to protect one of the town’s most important commercial areas, providing increased job security by protecting the places people work, keeping businesses open and supporting the wider local economy.

In a UK first, the scheme successfully trialled the use of two low-carbon concrete mixes for works at the Hexham Flood Alleviation Scheme. The low-carbon concrete, developed by Tarmac, was used across 3 panels, totalling 27 metres of the £6.5 million Hexham flood defences, as part of a plan to reduce the carbon footprint of the construction of flood defences, without compromising the strength and resilience of these structures. 

Hexham - BAM
Gareth Farrier, Director - BAM

Gareth Farrier, Divisional Director at BAM, said:

“It has been fantastic to support the Environment Agency in the delivery of these vital flood defences in Hexham. The success of the scheme is the result of the incredible collaboration between the Environment Agency, Arup, BAM and our suppliers which has delivered not only long-term flood protection for the town, but also a pioneering low-carbon concrete design.”

Leila Huntington, Environment Agency Operations Manager, said:

“We are delighted that the £6.5 million flood scheme at Hexham is now complete, reducing the flood risk to 90 properties, ahead of winter this year.”

“For those affected by flooding, the impact can be catastrophic and life changing. We hope these defences will bring peace of mind to everybody living and working in the area and will for many years to come.”

Guy Opperman MP for Tynedale and Ponteland said:

“Storm Desmond had a devastating impacting on businesses in Hexham. This scheme will restore confidence by giving improved protection to those properties while supporting economic prosperity and protecting jobs in the town.”

“With a Government contribution of £5.7m, this is part of a record £5.2 billion investment in flood defences across the country from 2021 to 2027, to help communities be better prepared for the impacts of climate change.”

Donald Daly, Associate at Arup said:

“The scheme’s use of low carbon concrete demonstrates the innovation now possible for climate resilience interventions. Arup has been privileged to support the Environment Agency in reducing the risk of flooding to Hexham while also reducing the embodied carbon of grey infrastructure, enabling net zero and resilience agendas to work hand in hand.”