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Top engineering projects recognised in Robert Stephenson Awards 2020

29 October 2020

Three pioneering engineering projects have won prestigious awards with ICE North East.

Top engineering projects recognised in Robert Stephenson Awards 2020

Three pioneering engineering projects from the region have won prestigious civil engineering awards with ICE North East.

Port of Sunderland Emergency Works, Northern Gateway and A19-1058 Coast Road improvements have been announced as 2020 Robert Stephenson Award winners.

The awards are held annually to showcase the outstanding work done by civil engineers in the North East. They are divided into three categories; projects with a cost in excess of £5m compete for the Large Projects Award, projects valued between £1m and £5m compete for the Medium Projects Award, and those under £1m are put forward for the Small Projects Award.

Port of Sunderland Emergency Works

Port of Sunderland Emergency Works has been crowned winner of the small category and was one of four projects from across the region to be shortlisted in this awards category, and Northern Gateway winner of the medium category was one of six projects in the running.

During March 2018 the Sunderland Coastline was subject to the effects of Storm Emma which brought severe, adverse weather to the region in the form of snow and strong winds, resulting in damage to the coastal defences. The repair and stabilisation works were undertaken in a challenging environment and subject to unpredictable weather and tidal changes. The Port of Sunderland Emergency Works were successfully completed to a tight timescale to prevent further costs and loss of facilities for Sunderland City Council by Esh Construction Ltd, Mott MacDonald and DTA Consulting Engineers LLP.

The judging panel was impressed by the diversity of skills, “out of the box” thinking, collaborative and coordinated approach to stabilise a major community and commercial asset under challenging and unpredictable weather conditions. Recovering and reusing materials in places, ‘Green’ plants, restricting noise levels were just some of the control measures used which demonstrated their commitment to the environment.

The Northern Gateway

The Northern Gateway is now operational on site, covering 1.8km of highway improvements on a key route into Sunderland City Centre. This is the largest project designed and constructed in-house by Sunderland City Council since the 1990s. The success of the Northern Gateway scheme signifies the Council's investment and support for the city's infrastructure, continuing to improve journey times and stimulating economic growth.

The judging panel were particularly impressed by Sunderland City Council’s willingness to take on the role of Client, Designer and Contractor for this scheme, principally for reasons of investing in their own workforce and demonstrating that the local authority was an organisation which had the skills and expertise to deliver projects to meet the needs of the city’s residents.

The winner of the large award is the A19-A1058 Coast Road Improvements scheme (pictured) adjacent to Silverlink. This scheme involved construction of the North East’s first triple-decker junction to alleviate significant traffic congestion and improve safety. The project was delivered by WSP and John Sisk & Son Ltd for Highways England with support from Lagan Construction, Bauer and Seymour Civil Engineering.

This scheme has brought significant improvement to the wider community, through reduction in journey time on some of the main routes in the region. This project also took account of the mental health and wellbeing of the workforce, through rollout of the 'Mates in Mind'initiative on site. The sustainability credentials of the scheme were enhanced by transport of site-won material to the nearby Testos site for use in the earthworks there, rather than it going to landfill. This is a project with true local ownership, encouraging a sense of pride in the region, with around two thirds of the labour being from the local area, and with more compliments than complaints received during the construction period.

The projects form part of the 12 nominated schemes from across Tyneside, Wearside, Durham and Northumberland.

The winners of the awards were announced at ICE North East’s Robert Stephenson Awards online awards ceremony on 22 October with the Institution’s President, Paul Sheffield.

Derek Smith, Chair of the Robert Stephenson Awards judging panel said:

“The standard of entries for the 2020 Robert Stephenson Awards is very high. We’ve seen a wide range of civil engineering examples in the entries which demonstrates the many facets of the profession. I would like to thank all the nominees for taking the time to put forward an entry and helping to raise the profile of civil engineering.

“There are thousands of civil engineers in the North East who work tirelessly to design, improve and maintain the infrastructure that we all rely on. These awards are a great opportunity to highlight the positive impact their work has on our lives.”

12 projects from the region were shortlisted in the awards across three categories:

Small Projects Award – value under £1m

  • Spring Gardens Dam Remedial Works – Environment Agency, Mott MacDonald, BAM Nuttall Ltd
  • Essity Drainage Upgrade & Pollution Prevention Works – Essity UK Ltd, Portland Consulting Engineers, Meldrum Construction Services Ltd, Todd Milburn Partnership: Principal Designer (CDM)
  • Briar Vale Flood Alleviation Scheme – North Tyneside Council, CAPITA, Environment Agency, Northumbrian Water
  • Port of Sunderland Emergency Works – Sunderland City Council, Mott MacDonald, DTA Consulting Engineers LLP, Esh Construction Ltd.

Medium Projects Award – value £1m - £5m

  • Northern Gateway – Sunderland City Council, Waterman Aspen, AECOM, WSP
  • Seahouses Main Pier Restoration - Northumberland County Council, Royal Haskoning DHV, Balfour Beatty, Environment Agency
  • Haddricks Mill - Newcastle City Council, Byland Engineering, Esh Construction Ltd
  • City of Durham Sewerage, Flass Vale - Northumbrian Water Ltd, Mott MacDonald Bentley
  • Otterburn Water Treatment Works Upgrade – Northumbrian Water Group, Mott MacDonald Bentley, Ross-shire Engineering
  • Arches Junction Improvements - South Tyneside Council, AECOM, Galliford Try Infrastructure

Large Projects Award – value over £5m

  • Enterprise Zone – Sunderland City Council, Esh Civils
  • A19 – A1058 Coast Road Improvement – WSP, John Sisk & Son Limited, Lagan Construction, Bauer, Seymour Civil Engineering

This year the judges have been paying particular attention to the sustainability, climate change impact and carbon footprint of the projects.

In 2019 the Large Category Award was won by Greatham South Flood Alleviation Scheme, the Medium Category Award was won by Whitley Bay Central Promenade Coastal Protection Works and the Small Category Award went to River Leven Erosion Protection.

All 12 shortlisted projects and winners are showcased in the Robert Stephenson Awards 2020 video. Watch it below.

The full awards ceremony recorded event can also be watched here.

Look out for the Robert Stephenson Awards 2021, opening soon!

  • Joanne Stephenson, communications lead at ICE