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Europe’s first ‘smart canal’ wins Scotland’s top civil engineering award 

30 September 2021

The pioneering drainage system is an example of how an 18th century heritage asset can provide 21st century solutions to today's issues.

Europe’s first ‘smart canal’ wins Scotland’s top civil engineering award 

The creation of a pioneering drainage system to mitigate flood risk has been chosen as making the ‘Greatest Contribution to Scotland’ at the Scottish Civil Engineering Awards, organised by ICE Scotland and CECA Scotland.

The North Glasgow Integrated Water Management System – Glasgow’s Smart Canal – gives advanced warning of heavy rainfall and automatically triggers a lowering of the canal water. This has unlocked 110 hectares across the north of the city for investment, regeneration and development, paving the way for more than 3,000 new homes.

This year’s other winners included the development of Glasgow’s Queen Street Station, which was named Best Building and The Glen Mallan Northern Ammunition Jetty - the final jetty refurbishment to support Queen Elizabeth Class Aircraft Carrier programme – won the Best Infrastructure Award.

The convenor of the awards judging panel, Ainslie McLaughlin, said that judges were impressed by the quality and range of entries this year, particularly given the challenges of the past 18 months.

'A testament to the construction sector's resilience'

“It is further testament to the remarkable resilience and adaptability of our construction sector to continue to deliver, upgrade and protect our national infrastructure for the benefit of people and communities across Scotland.

"The award of the ‘Greatest Contribution to Scotland’ to the Smart Canals project was in recognition of the innovative approach taken by all the parties involved to develop a low-cost sustainable solution to a 21st century challenge by bringing a new and productive use to our 18th and 19th century canal system which has attracted international interest in its potential."

Transforming heritage assets with smart technology

Catherine Topley, CEO at Scottish Canals, said she was thrilled to win such a prestigious award.

"Thanks to smart technology, we are able to use a 250-year-old publicly owned heritage asset to not only help reduce the flood risk impact of climate change, but also act as a catalyst for new investment, jobs, homes and businesses in North Glasgow as well as a means of tackling health inequalities," she said.

"The Smart Canal, which is a partnership between Scottish Canals, Scottish Water and Glasgow City Council, as well as our other winners, the iconic Bowline sustainable travel bridge at Bowling Harbour and Leamington Lift Bridge in the heart of Edinburgh, once again, show how 18th century working heritage assets can provide 21st century solutions to some of the most important issues of our day."

The 2021 award winners

• Glasgow’s Smart Canal - Greatest Contribution to Scotland

• Glasgow Queen Street Station Redevelopment - Best Building Award

• Glen Mallan Northern Ammunition Jetty - Infrastructure Award

• The Bowline, Bowling Harbour - Community Award

• A9 Berriedale Braes Improvement Project - Rural Resilience Award

• Leamington Lift Bridge Refurbishment - Small Project Award

• Loch Thom - Innovation Award

  • Gordon Brown, communications lead at ICE