Design and construction of the new Reading sewage treatment works is being undertaken by an Alliance consisting of the client Thames Water Utilities Limited, Taylor Woodrow and Black & Veatch. The main drivers for the £80m project are to meet new regulated standards for effluent discharge and sludge disposal in addition to eliminating odour nuisance.
The foundations for the project’s CEEQUAL success lay in Thames Water’s determination to set very high standards of environmental performance as one of the initial project objectives – a fact illustrated by the contractual emphasis on environmental management and the presence in the project team of a dedicated Environmental Manager. A thorough Environmental Impact Assessment, completed prior to commencement, contained extensive mitigation measures for the construction phase and enhancement proposals as part of the scheme design – important environmental aspects of civil engineering which are highlighted by the CEEQUAL process. Examples of the former are the air quality and landscape strategies agreed with Reading Borough Council whilst enhancements include creation of mounding as invertebrate sub-strate and the planting of over 20,000 native trees.
The Alliance made an early decision to operate an Environmental Management System (EMS) with the aim of gaining certification to ISO14001. Having achieved certification it is no surprise that the ‘Project Environmental Management’ section of CEEQUAL was one of the project’s highest scoring elements.
Although a somewhat detailed design was required for Planning purposes, thus constraining total design freedom, the scheduling and tracking of decisions on all environmental design matters once on site ensured that nothing ‘slipped through the net’ in the course of making the many decisions that a project of this complexity requires. The ‘Environmental Design Checklist’ is reviewed every two months and all decisions and changes signed off once implications and agreements are reached. This process, and the results from it, is a further contributory factor to the high scoring in the CEEQUAL assessment.
From the early days of extensive site remediation, when an unexpected colony of water voles was successfully relocated under a licence from English Nature, to site controls as part of the EMS, the project to date has a very good environmental record.
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