The pioneering solution to a flooding South Tyneside road which caused misery for thousands of drivers

Engineers have hailed the success of pioneering solution to a flooding road which caused misery for thousands of drivers.

Tuesday, 18th May 2021, 11:06 am
Updated Tuesday, 18th May 2021, 11:06 am
The Hydrorock system being installed at Lizard Lane

South Tyneside Council commissioned Teesside-based Lynas Engineers to come up with a design to tackle the problem and mitigate future flooding problems.

The company used a new product called Hydrorock, developed in the Netherlands, to soak up water to prevent the road from flooding.

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Helen Langton, who headed the project for Lynas Engineers

Hydrorock is an easy-to-install permeable block which is made from natural materials. It is packed with mineral wool – similar to the composition of loft insulation – and wrapped in a membrane.

Nearly 600 blocks were connected together in the Lizard Lane scheme, providing a capacity equivalent to three London buses filled with water.

Senior engineer Helen Langton, who headed the project for Lynas Engineers, said: “We were so proud to be involved right at the start of something that could prove to be a game changer in the UK, and the problems we faced in South Tyneside really required some fresh thinking.”

Nearly 600 blocks were connected together in the Lizard Lane scheme, providing a capacity equivalent to three London buses filled with water.

“It’s amazing,” said Helen. “Apart from all its other attributes, it’s so easy to put in. It actually takes longer to dig the hole.”

The sustainability of Hydrorock was also a great attraction.

“We work in the environment and we try to make it better for road users, the general public and day-to-day life. But everybody who does this job normally ends up putting man-made materials into the ground which burnt a lot of fossil fuel in their production,” she said.

“With Hydrorock, if you didn’t want it there anymore you can take it out and put it in another location, or – if it’s eventually exceeded its lifespan – you can send it back and it will be recycled.”

Work got underway in February and is now complete.

Councillor Ernest Gibson, lead member for Area Management and Community Safety at South Tyneside Council, said: “Finding green solutions which limit our impact on the environment is one of the council’s key priorities.

“This innovative material will provide a sustainable solution to the issue of flooding which, in turn will make the area safer for both motorists and pedestrians alike.”

Hydrorock Solutions has been working closely with Lynas Engineers on the South Tyneside project.

It said one of its key objectives is to provide sufficient space for water to mitigate risk of future floods.

Hydrorock provides a void of 94% compared to a 30% void for a traditional gravel soakaway.

BCE Northern, the contractor on the project, found that underground obstacles – such as cables and pipes, which can cause major delays – were not a problem, as Hydrorock was fitted easily around them.

Steve Colville, the managing director of Hydrorock Solutions, said Hydrorock was developed in response to an increase in rainfall, greater urbanisation – resulting in significantly more surface runoff – and a rise in water demand.

The system, he said, provides a holistic solution: whether that’s capturing water, holding water, moving water or releasing it. “This is changing the game for the UK’s surface water management,” said Mr Colville. “It’s simpler, easier, faster, cheaper, greener and safer.”

He added: “Working with Helen was great. Her starting point was that she was totally open-minded and seeking the best solution. She enabled us to be built into the project, rather than just bolted on. We understood exactly what the client’s issues were and its objectives and how we could best deliver that with Lynas."

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