Dredging and Fenland Creation in the Norfolk Broads

Civil Engineering

Water-based expertise helps Natural England complete ambitious project at Hoveton in the Norfolk Broads DOWNLOAD PDF

Getting the job done is what good project management is all about. That’s not just ticking boxes; it’s looking for innovative, inventive and creative ways to bring a project together that’s successful for all parties involved. Some projects requirements are more challenging than others and fall outside the comfort zone of a traditional project management approach. One of those is working on water.

Water-based projects present a challenge for a number of reasons:

  • Logistics are complex and require a great deal of forward planning
  • Water is at the heart of a wide variety of natural habitats, all of which need to be properly considered and protected during the project
  • Waterways are often narrow, covered with vegetation and difficult to navigate
  • Equipment needed for major construction work is heavy and cumbersome
  • Material resulting from clearing water, dredging river beds, restoring banks and creating fixed structures needs to be cleared away and re-used responsibly
  • The needs of construction workers must be factored in, so that they have the facilities they need to work constructively
  • Floated equipment must be safe and secure, both whilst being operated and when the project is on downtime

Delivering dream projects

What might be a traditional project manager’s worst nightmare is exactly the kind of job that we love and that we have a great reputation for delivering. We have the expertise, creativity and equipment, which is often customised to requirements, to execute complex projects where water is a key factor.

A great example of this is a recent project in Norfolk.

Hudson Bay and Hoveton Broad are connected by a very narrow water channel. Natural England wanted to dredge both waterways and build a new area of fenland.

Hoveton 1
Natural England

This was one of the most expensive projects ever undertaken by Natural England, and presented a number of key challenges to contractors:

  • The narrow waterway link made access for heavy plant extremely difficult
  • Timescales were tight because the nesting season had to be respected
  • The need to create a sustainable geo-wall with the dredged material at the river bank in order to retain the new fenland area
  • Getting the equipment to the site presented a range of logistical difficulties: plant had to be transported by road before being floated to the excavation site
  • The project had been designed by a third party but needed to be fulfilled by a water specialist, so it was vital to all project partners that we delivered to specification
Hoveton 2

As experts in water-based construction and land protection, we were able to deliver a solution that used specialised equipment, dedicated geotextile bags and experienced operators in order to deliver this complex project. We provided:

  • Knock down pontoon and eight-tonne long reach excavator for dredging in Hudson Bay
  • Two fourteen-tonne long reach excavator mounted on NATO pontoons
  • Heavy-duty pumps for redistributing dredged silt and filling geotextile bags
  • One fourteen-tonne long reaches mounted on NATO pontoon for dredging Hoveton Great Broad
  • Tugs and mud hoppers
  • Amphibious excavator for site clearance and further silt distribution
Hoveton 3

Making a difference

We navigated this equipment through the channel using tree shearers, which caused minimal disruption to the environment and saved considerable time and money over transporting the equipment by land.

Choosing to use pumps to move the dredged material from the water into the geotextile bags allowed us to pump up to 900m3 per day – a non-invasive, faster, more reliable efficient way of working. Most contractors cannot offer this. We deliberately chose to create a bigger geo-wall to make sure that the new land was securely and properly retained. We sourced outsized geotextile bags to help achieve this. This added complexity to the pumping process and to the building process, but ultimately resulted in a robust retaining wall that will last for far longer than a simpler solution.

Hoveton 4

Nature watch

Our work is carried out around the natural lifecycles of the creatures and plant-life that rely on it for sustenance. We’re always aware of the need to plan and, where necessary, adapt our work to allow for nesting seasons, fish spawning times and other environmental concerns – things that are often not on the radar on a traditional construction project, but will be highlighted by any environmental consultants or lobbying groups involved in the project.

In Hoveton, for example, we dredged the waterways to make them deeper – this is because local swans had eaten all the vegetation from the current riverbed, reducing oxygen levels and threatening other species. By making the waterway deeper, we improved the water quality and the general water habitat.

Land & Water Project Manager Charlie Oakes is immensely proud of this project.

"We are delighted to have been able to offer a timely solution that has enabled Tideway to continue with their project. At Land & Water, we understand the complexities that the river environment can produce and pride ourselves on providing workable and one-stop solutions to these issues."

Read more about our unique approach

We thrive on challenging projects that leave others scratching their heads. We have the expertise, resourcefulness and experience to work closely with clients in urban and rural locations to find solutions that meet everyone’s needs – from the commissioning client to the local community. Read more about our successful projects and contact us today to see how we can help you.


Our work with Berkeley Homes required an innovative approach which saw us float an entire 40 tonne bridge up the River Thames

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