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The West Cumbria Water Supply Project - Pollution Prevention Plans

The West Cumbria Water Supply Project is a 100km open cut water pipeline in the northwest of England. Naturally Compliant delivered a full range of environmental services including advising on and coordinating the design of the project’s pollution prevention plan.

Challenge: A linear obstacle course

Linear projects are complex. They likely traverse intensively managed agricultural land with drainage designed to take water directly to the local water environment. They often intersect with natural watercourses which require sympathetic watercourse crossing management. And, while they might only be 50m wide, they are often many kilometres long, resulting in significant areas of exposed soils until new vegetation cover is established.

There are several potential sources of pollution associated with projects like this: sediment, hydrocarbons, COSHH and wastewater/sewage. So, given the scale of the project, compliance with the Environmental Permitting Regulations was required, including significant stakeholder engagement needed – with landowners, the Environmental Agency, the Developer and the Principal Contractor.

The Naturally Compliant Solution: Where Wisdom Meets Execution

Naturally Compliant were embedded into the principal contractor team at the preconstruction stage. Working together, we developed a viable solution that met the projects regulatory requirements.

We agreed to use NTU (nephelometric turbidity units) metrics to monitor sediment levels, with a fail-safe that kicked in if levels breached the NTU figure over time. We leveraged existing operating procedures for refuelling, COSHH storage and welfare cabin sewage disposal. Then, following the principles of Naturally Complaints ’six steps for successful onsite surface water management’, we identified relevant receptors and isolated the working area through a mix of pre-construction land drainage and topsoil storage.

Where practical, the topsoil was stored on the high side of the easement which not only prevents inadvertent surface flow, it also stops precipitation/surface flow being trapped on the wayleave and potential erosion. With the topsoil on the high side, water can be released when needed from the wayleave in smaller quantities, preventing the need to manage significant volumes of dirty water at one location.

Using CIRIA guidelines we modelled treatment area requirements and lagoons tailored for the site topography. Based on these models, additional land was negotiated and chemical treatment providers procured.

While the intention was for the wayleave to be reinstated shortly after the pipe was laid this was not always viable given access requirements. As such treatment systems and control measures remained in place until the wayleave was handed back to the landowner.

The outcome – a Green Apple Award

Despite the unpredictable weather patterns and the complex geological terrain of the northwest, , pollution events were minimal, and independent validation confirmed our water quality monitoring. We were delighted that the project won a green apple for its approach to managing water.

Recommendations: The road ahead

At the successful conclusion of this project, Naturally Compliant made the following recommendations.


  1. Be smart, consult early: Consider bringing in an environmental consultant during the tender process; it could be a game-changer in understanding the financial scope of the project.

  2. Invest in water management: Whether in kilometres, pounds, or pence, be prepared to allocate appropriate resources.

  3. Pre-plan your monitoring: Define quality metrics and pollution thresholds upfront. It’s easier to budget when you know the rules of the game.

Naturally Compliant turned a complex, multi-faceted environmental challenge into a textbook case of success. A blend of deep insight, stakeholder collaboration, and actionable steps – equal parts experience and everyday smarts.

If you’d like more information on how we can help your project be a success, please dont hesitate to get in touch.

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