Latest News: Using Sheet Piles to Defend Against Flooding

November 25th, 2019

Using Sheet Piles to Defend Against Flooding

The Environment Agency has called for all infrastructure to be flood-resilient by 2050, in anticipation of a rise in global temperatures of 4°C. Additionally, the agency has stated that the Government needs to commit £1bn per year to traditional flood and coastal defence works – more than double the £430m currently spent. There is a clear part for steel sheet piles to play in this scenario, given their use in a variety of flood defence systems, whether that is within sea walls, river embankments or as free-standing flood walls.

Temperatures in the UK have risen 1°C since the 1970s, because of greenhouse gas emissions. There are already 5m homes in the UK that are at risk of flooding and those at serious risk of flooding is expected to double, to 1.9m, by 2050. The agencies seeking to control this issue have stated that it is not feasible to simply keep building higher flood defences and say we need to plan for at least a one-metre rise in sea level by 2100.

Protection & resilience: the role of sheet piles in flood defences

The National Infrastructure Assessment, prepared by the National Infrastructure Commission has recommended a nationwide standard of flood resilience, to help people and places live with flooding, recover from it and adapt to life with future weather impacts. The ultimate aim would be to make the UK climate-proof and drive new development to areas with least likelihood of flooding. As the agencies say, climate change is the biggest challenge the UK faces, as a nation.

Building climate resilient places is something Sheet Piling (UK) Ltd has been helping to do for years. Sheet pile walls can play an important part in flood defences, strengthening embankments in fluvial environments and making them watertight, or creating sea walls that will help keep the tide at bay. Sheet piles have become an important component of flood defence and their use is likely to increase, as flash floods become the norm in the UK and as sea levels continue to rise.

Advantages of sheet piles for flood defence

In flood-prone environments, a sheet pile wall has only a slight footprint, yet can hold back a large volume of water as a freestanding flood wall. Sheet piles can also replace an entire embankment, if required to do so, and can be installed in even those areas where space is tight. With minimal disruption to the local environment, wildlife habitats can be protected, whilst silent piling can take place in areas where flood defence works are close to residential areas. Sheet pile walls are strong, durable and watertight and can stabilise natural river and sea defences. Expert design can enable sheet piles to play dynamic parts in flood defence schemes.

Britain’s reality check

The Environment Agency and the National Infrastructure Commission have said: “Britain needs a reality check on the flooding to come.” The warning could not be any clearer and drastic action is required, at an infrastructure level, along with actions that make communities more resilient. With sheet piles readily available and a proven way to help protect against flooding, there would seem to be an enormous part for sheet piling experts like Sheet Piling (UK) Ltd to play, to help keep lives and property safe. We have, at hand today, the equipment, resources and technical know-how that can protect us against the climate of tomorrow.

With there being an imbalance in UK flood patterns, that sees the north of England and Scotland hit more often with flooding impacts than areas in the south, Sheet Piling (UK) Ltd, is poised to do its part to help its own heartland – as well as the rest of the UK – become better protected, making its high-quality sheet piles a major part of the infrastructure that is required, in order to bolster flood defences.

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Sheet Piling (UK) Limited is one of the UK's leading piling contractors. Owning and operating a comprehensive range of specialist piling equipment Sheet Piling (UK) Ltd also carry extensive stocks of new and used piles enabling rapid reaction to any urgent requirements or emergency situations.