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Canal and River Trust appoints Arcadis, RSK, Stantec and more as technical experts

Posted on April 1, 2024

The Canal and River Trust has appointed Arcadis, RSK and Geotechnical Engineering to provide technical expertise on maintaining its assets amidst the “growing challenge of climate change-driven storms and floods”.

The Canal and River Trust said it has put in place long-term framework contracts allowing it to call upon these companies to help it look after the network’s reservoirs, embankments, cuttings and other structures.

It has also appointed Arcadis Consulting, Pell Frischmann Consultants and Stantec UK to provide services around technical engineering and design, to help it plan works required to keep the canal open and safe.

It said the new contracts were awarded following a rigorous five-stage tender process carried out over 18 months. The agreements are for a period of up to eight years, with an initial term of four years.

One of the first priorities for the appointees will be to carry out a programme of ground investigations to establish the integrity of the Trust’s structures, many of which are over 200 years old.

In addition to assessing the impact of climate breakdown, ground investigations are needed to assess potential contamination and to put in equipment to monitor potential ground movement of canal structures or groundwater levels, according to the charity.

The Canal and River Trust owns 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.

It said it was moving from a single to a multi-supplier model for its professional service and geotechnical inspection contracts from 1 April 2024. This will, it said, increase resilience for the delivery of projects and broaden the pool of available resources. The means the Trust will be able to access “a wider range of innovation, best practice options, technical and sustainable solutions”.

Canal and River Trust chief infrastructure and programmes officer Malcolm Horne 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 new contract builds on the services it has been providing to the Trust since 2011. The consultancy said it would allow it to work with water management specialists Binnies, who will complement its services by providing specialist reservoir support.

Arcadis water management business director Matt Bennett described the awarding of the contract as “a tremendous win for Arcadis” and said it “strengthens our collaborative partnership with Binnies and our wider supply chain partners.

“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 the future.

“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.”

RSK environment framework director Ben Swallow said: “RSK is proud to be a framework supplier of ground investigation services to the Canal and River Trust and we look forward to working collaboratively with the trust and other nominated suppliers.

“We understand the importance of protecting this valuable asset and delivering ground investigation services sensitively, with minimal disturbance for both canal network users and wildlife.”

Ben added that the work the team would carry out would involve ground investigation associated with the charity’s historic infrastructure.

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

“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.”

Pell Frischmann head of environmental management and sustainability Mark Duquemin said: “We are excited to bring our expertise to help the Canal and River Trust’s charitable cause to keep the 2,000 miles of waterways they are responsible for to be here for tomorrow and beyond.”


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