Broadlands image

Key Facts

  • Client: Environment Agency
  • Value: £114 million
  • Location: Norfolk

The Broadland Flood Alleviation Project is a 20 year PFI / PPP project.

The Broadland Flood Alleviation Project is a 20 year PFI / PPP project including design, construction, and maintenance of flood defences on the Norfolk and Suffolk Broads. The project was awarded to Broadland Environmental Services Ltd (BESL), a 90/10 joint venture company between BAM Nuttall and Halcrow (now CH2M Hill).

Works include:

  • Strengthening the existing floodbanks.
  • Replacing existing erosion protection.
  • Providing new erosion protection.
  • Carrying out works at undefended communities

The first stage of the contract focused on undertaking extensive surveys and evaluation studies, together with public consultations in order to update the Environment Agency’s flood defence strategy and define the 10 year capital programme of works to increase flood protection.

The partnership has developed a range of innovative and sustainable solutions for both existing and new defences within this nationally and internationally important wetland, which has produced a £10m efficiency over the life of the contract.


BESL and the Environment Agency work collaboratively from an open plan office in Norwich with a culture of open communication throughout every facet of the project. This ‘one team’ approach has resulted in reduced management resources, improved flow of information and more flexible programmes with outcome certainty. Knowledge is freely shared and empathy, understanding and appreciation exists between all participants. The construction and design team work together in both developing designs and construction methodology. On the operational front this same ethos promotes proactive reporting and timely warning of potential problems which can then be mitigated in good time.

Ecological Protection

Wildlife and habitat protection is an especially important issue in this Environmentally Sensitive Area (ESA). An Environmental Action Plan (EAP) is produced for each element of the scheme which is used to achieve agreement of the appropriate nature conservation bodies such as Natural England. All key stakeholders and conservation bodies have an input to the EAP which then drives the overall decision making. Advice has been sought from bodies like the RSPB, Norfolk Wildlife Trust, the Anglian Otters and Rivers Project as well as angling clubs, to try to programme works at periods of the year when disruption to wildlife is at its minimum. The project includes 28 Sites of Special Scientific Interest, covering 7,000 of the 30,000 hectares of the Broads.


The partnership aims to develop sustainable solutions, wherever possible. Examples include:

  • Reuse of existing steel sheet piles and timber, extracted from existing flood banks.
  • Use of FSC certified timber, resourced locally where possible.
  • Dredged material reused to build flood embankments where possible.


This scheme has received numerous awards including:

  • 4 RoSPA Gold Achievement Awards
  • 2 Silver Considerate Constructor Scheme Awards
  • Engineering Education Scheme Award,
  • The Royal Academy of Engineering PPP/PFI Award,
  • Contract Journal Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) Award