What the Scots can tell the rest of the UK about flood protection

There is a lot you can learn from a 15 year flood alleviation scheme? Steven Trewhella shares his top five discoveries from the Moray project in Scotland.

Steven Trewhella

Last week the £180M Moray Flood Alleviation Scheme threw open its doors to show off Scotland’s biggest investment in the sector. Royal HaskoningDHV business case manager Steven Trewhella has been with the project from the startt.

Here are his top five lessons for the flood community.



1.     Importance of client leadership: The council took the decision to invest in a major capital programme over a 15 year time frame and stuck with it.

2.      Spatial planning: Being part of a big Anglo-Dutch group I have learned from my colleagues in the Netherlands that there is a lot more we can do in the UK in terms of spatial planning for flood alleviation, visualising the possibilities of connecting town and river with green/blue space to add to the urban environment in a good way.

3.     Export UK flood expertise: The UK should promote its flooding expertise far more widely than it does. There is £40 to £60bn to be spent on resilient infrastructure in the years ahead around the world and rather than cutting back on skills, government should be supporting us to sell UK expertise internationally.

4.     Flood defence should be an amenity: Solutions shouldn’t just be functional, they should be desirable and an asset for the future. Sustrans is funding a new cycle route along our flood defences for instance.

5.     Engineers need to have a voice.  We can’t shine in silence. If we want private investors to be confident about investing in public projects we have to be big enough to stand up and say what we think.

Steven has more lessons to share. You find out what they are in the Infrastructure Intelligence May magazine on line, on tablet and on paper from Friday.



In July 1997 the region of Moray in Scotland was devastated by floods. Hundreds of people were evacuated, homes and business premises ruined, the rail line from Aberdeen to Inverness was closed and the A96 was flooded.

The damage kick started a long term programme to protect the area far into the future. Projects have been undertaken in Elgin, Rothes, Forres and Llanbryde and the job is a pioneering example of how working with the community and using intelligent investment can create a sustainable legacy for generations to come.

The project has involved designs to make room for the river, including demolition and rebuilding of bridges to open up water courses, construction of a dam for a flood water storage scheme and relocation of businesses and homes to create blue/green flood plain all with the co-operation of local people.

Royal HaskoningDHV has been working with client The Moray Council to establish the solutions to future flood risk along with principal contractor Morrison Construction and cost consultant EC Harris.

The largest of the Moray schemes in an £86M project to alleviate flooding in Elgin.  Works are being carried out along 9km of the River Lossie, creating a conveyance corridor through the town and opening up the existing flood plain downstream. Works have involved replacing three bridges to open up the water course along with diverting the Tyock Burn. The scheme is due to complete in spring 2015.

At Forres, in a £45M project, a 5km long embankment up to 3m high has been set back from the river, together with extensive works close to the river channel to create space for higher flows. Two roads are being raised to pass over the embankment and a 66 year old footbridge extended by 90m to travel over the lowered river bend. This job will finish at the end of this year.

If you would like to contact Jackie Whitelaw about this, or any other story, please email jackie.whitelaw@infrastructure-intelligence.com.