Tidal Defences That Preserve Marine Ecology

Typically, seawalls are constructed using reinforced concrete panels which provide important structural reinforcement to marine structures, however, can be detrimental to marine biodiversity. The concrete on the surface of the panels can be toxic to marine life, including microorganisms, which can result in disruptions to the ecosystem.

Based on a global research project on the relationship between habitat complexity and marine biodiversity on human-built marine structures, our client undertook further investigation with the aim of developing a unique eco-engineered wall tile that can be used to increase the biodiversity of sea walls. The project’s design phase took place throughout the 2020 financial year followed by its successful implementation in the South of England in 2021.

In order to develop the panels, our client worked alongside various specialists to construct several sample panels for use on British sea walls. During the development of prototypes, the environmental impact of these products was considered including the potential contamination or pollution of existing ecosystems, as well as the management of waste from installation and general use of the products.
Once the panels were developed, they then had to be installed along the coastline which presented a significantly complex construction environment because of tidal patterns and unpredictable ground conditions. To ensure that all necessary work was completed before the tide came in, an increased labour force was used under a unique scheduling methodology that completed work before progress was lost to the rising tide.

The result of the project was the successful implementation of the world’s first tidal defence system capable of supporting a live ecosystem and retaining sea life in areas with costal defences despite challenges resulting from the extreme site conditions. Methods used on the design and implementation of this system can be studied and repeated to project coastal ecosystems globally.

Hamilton Blake worked with the client to capture their innovative approach for the preservation of marine ecology, with the project spanning a two-year period. Consequently, two R&D tax claims were submitted to HMRC which resulted in appropriate compensation for future development and furtherment of projects encompassing the natural world.

Brandon Harris

Tidal Defences That Preserve Marine Ecology

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