National construction and engineering company, JN Bentley, was the contractor on all three projects to receive accolades at the prestigious Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) Robert Stephenson Awards (under £4m category).
The awards highlight outstanding design and construction in the region – or by companies based in the region – and JN Bentley’s achievement is even more impressive given the record number of entries submitted to ICE this year.
The Selset Reservoir Hydroelectric Scheme in Grassholme, Durham, fought off a number of other strong entries on a shortlist of 12 to win the under £4m category. JN Bentley were the principal contractors on the scheme, for client RWE npower renewables, to install a 750kW Francis turbine to harvest the flows discharged from Selset Reservoir. The reservoir, owned and operated by Northumbrian Water, sits at an altitude of 310m in the valley of Teesdale.
Completed in March 2011, the project successfully addressed the challenges associated with working in such a remote and environmentally-sensitive location, installing a hydroturbine – powerful enough to supply 1,000 homes – within a new powerhouse that has been built in-keeping with the picturesque landscape.
In making the award, the judges praised the “good team work and planning used to overcome technical difficulties and logistical problems at an isolated and difficult to access location,” noting that the “scheme was completed to the highest standards of dimensional control and monitoring of adjacent structures.”
JN Bentley’s work as contractor on the Horden Passive Minewater Treatment Scheme was commended for sustainability and environmental issues in the same category. The new scheme provides Horden with a long-term natural treatment process that avoids the use of chemicals to treat the mine water. The project, for client The Coal Authority, involved the installation of new precast concrete structures, and the construction of wetland areas and settlement lagoons with access paths built so that the public benefit from the enhanced landscape.
Also commended, for technical engineering excellence and ingenuity in design, was the Tees International Whitewater Course at Stockton. JN Bentley’s role on this scheme, as designer and principal contractor, involved the installation of four Archimedean screws, 12m long by 3.1m diameter. The screws pump water from the bottom pool to the top pool, recirculating water and enabling the course to operate at any state of tide. The screw pumps can also work in reverse – acting as generators of electricity for export into the National Grid (the screws have 524kW installed capacity). The site, developed for client British Waterways, is the only installation in the world where Archimedean screws are used as both pumps and generators.
The awards were presented at the ICE North East Annual Dinner by ICE President Richard Coackley, who commented: “All of the projects submitted to the awards prove one important thing on behalf of the civil engineering sector: despite the economy, excellent work is still being conducted and it is improving people’s lives here in the North East. Initiatives such as the Robert Stephenson Awards allow us to celebrate and highlight this excellent work.”