Canal & River Trust appoints technical experts

Image: Canal & River Trust

The Canal & River Trust has appointed new technical experts to help tackle climate challenges. 

Arcadis, Stantec and RSK Environment are among a number of experts that have been appointed. 

The trust manages more than 2,000 miles of historic canals, rivers, docks and reservoirs in England and Wales, as well as thousands of historic buildings and sites.

It says with its canal network is facing “the growing challenge of climate change-driven storms and floods”, it has put in place long term framework contracts allowing it to call on specialist technical expertise to help look after reservoirs, embankments, cuttings and other structures.

Moving from a single source, from April 1 the trust’s in-house team can call on support where needed from Arcadis (UK), RSK Environment and Geotechnical Engineering.

Allowing it to tap into innovation from other sectors when planning works are required to keep the canal network open and safe, it has also agreed terms with specialists in technical engineering and design services.

Again, moving from a single source, support will be available from Arcadis Consulting (UK), Pell Frischmann Consultants and Stantec UK.

The new Professional Service and Geotechnical Inspection contracts are for a period of up to eight years, with an initial term of four years.

The trust is the owner of the third largest collection of listed structures in the UK, and manages 1,579 locks, 55 tunnels, 2,969 bridges, 279 aqueducts and 71 reservoirs. 

Malcolm Horne, chief infrastructure and programmes officer at the Canal & River Trust, said: “The UK’s canal network is a fantastic example of long-lasting civil engineering; living heritage which is still in active use today.

“This 250-year-old network is also facing the impact of a challenging, changing climate, with the multiple storms in the past few months alone causing millions of pounds of damage. 

“To keep our canals safe and available for years to come, we must make sure our historic structures are sound, and that we’re planning our works with the best possible knowledge, both from our in-house expertise and drawing on the latest advances from other industries.”

Arcadis said the multi-million pound, eight-year partnership with the Canal & River Trust will see the global consultancy provide sustainable project solutions across its capital programme.

The framework award builds on 13 years of services provided by Arcadis to the trust, managing complex assets such as reservoirs, embankments, culverts and tunnels and unique historic assets like the Anderton Boat Lift.

More than 150 Arcadis specialists, primarily across the UK but also working with colleagues in the Netherlands and Asia, will work with the trust.

One of the first priorities will be working with the trust to support and establish processes to ensure that its commitment to net zero is incorporated into delivery by the supply chain partners.

As well as managing canals in England and Wales, the trust has a portfolio that includes more than 2,500 listed buildings, nine historic battlefields and five UNESCO World Heritage Sites.  

Many of the trust’s assets are up to 250 years old, meaning the safety and maintenance Arcadis is contracted to carry out are of critical importance.

Previous trust projects that Arcadis has worked on include maintaining and managing the Anderton Boat Lift, a giant three-storey-high iron edifice in Cheshire and one of only two boat lifts in the UK, which lifts boats and barges 50ft from the River Weaver Navigation to the Trent & Mersey Canal. 

Arcadis has also supported the trust to design a set of replacement lock gate sat the West India dock – the historic gateway to London, transporting goods from the Caribbean. 

Matt Bennett, Arcadis water management business director, said the contract was a “tremendous win” for Arcadis.

“It builds on our established relationship with the trust and has tested our thinking to ensure that we bring a refreshed offer to the client, to meet the challenges of today and of the future,” he added. 

“In particular we are focusing on how we address sustainability across this unique portfolio and drive innovations to meet the portfolio constraints.

“The alignment of the organisations has also been key and one where values has been at the heart of the approach.

“As an established waterway and wellbeing charity to help improve the health and wellbeing of the nation, this immediately aligns with our strategic objectives and is critical to improving quality of life for people living in England and Wales.”

Through the framework, Stantec will now be able to help the trust maintain and preserve its assets with an offering that includes civil, geotechnical, bridge, structural, hydrology and hydraulic engineering and design services as well as a comprehensive mix of environmental, economic, heritage, planning and ecological consultancy.

“The Canal & River Trust plays a pivotal role in enriching our culture, fostering community wellbeing, and preserving our precious natural habitats.” said Robert Riddington, Stantec’s director of water management. 

“With our extensive interdisciplinary expertise around blending nature with engineering, we are delighted to support the trust in transforming canals and rivers into spaces where local people want to spend time and ecosystems can thrive.”

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