The impact of climate change is such that five million homes in the UK are now at risk of flooding, whether by sea, river or overflowing drains, warns the Environment Agency. HELEN COMPSON meets one company that wholeheartedly believes prevention is better than cure.
Andel might be a global market leader in environmental protection systems, but for confirmation that floods destroy it need look no further than its own doorstep in West Yorkshire.
It was local, home-grown expertise that was employed in the design and production of the three strongest weapons in its arsenal too.
The Andel FloodWall grew out of a product it first made 28 years ago for what was then Yorkshire Electricity.
Then, the ReBund was designed to retain oil, to prevent it seeping into the environment should a transformer leak.
Commercial director Mark Harris said: “Because we were working with the electricity industry, we came up with the idea of a modular bund which could be swiftly and easily installed around a transformer.
“We were then asked the question, if the ReBund could keep oil in, could it also keep water out?
“So now we have the corollary, the inverse – the FloodWall was designed to be erected quickly to keep water out of installations.”
Assembled in a similar way to conventional fencing, with special reinforced posts concreted into the ground, the FloodWall is manufactured from non-porous, durable, recycled plastic waste.
It provides a watertight and weight-bearing defence against floodwater and takes a quarter of the time it would to put up a concrete equivalent. The fact it doesn’t require planning permission either is a big plus.
“The advantages of using recycled plastic are threefold,” said Mark. “One, the material is very robust, which has been proven practically and theoretically. It is also relatively easy to work, so it can be shaped to fit requirements.
“Two, aesthetically it looks absolutely like wood, so it has a very reasonable appearance.
“And three, we can calculate the amount of CO2 that has not been put into the atmosphere by using this rather than concrete, so it meets certain CO2 targets as a result.”
Faced with the threat of flooding, any detached building – residential as well as commercial – can be given the wrap-around protection of FloodWall.
The two other flood defence technologies the company has in its armoury are the Andel FloodPump and the Vortex Flow Control.
The former is an industry-unique piece of kit that both triggers automatically and sounds the alarm, texting notifications and updates to mobile devices and building management systems.
It can be deployed inside or out and employed in the control of flood gates, flood doors, drain flaps and the like. Oh, and it works around the clock, 24/7.
The Vortex Flow Control is a flow-limiter that is engineered the fit the dimensions of the overflow pipes, storm water drains, watercourses and sewers concerned. It has no moving parts or energy consumption, requires minimal maintenance and is simple to install.
Mark said: “These devices are about trying to control the flow of water rather than just pumping it out – they grew out of the whole ‘slow the flow’ idea the water industry is embracing.”
Now an international company, Andel is determined to plough some of its resources back into the home territory from whence it sprang.
So whenever Andel FloodWall is used to protect against river flooding in Yorkshire, it will donate the profit to charitable organisations tackling flooding.
“If you can slow the flow in the upland areas, when it is in rivulets rather than big rivers, that will reduce the problems downstream,” he said.
“All this type of work is being done by charitable organisations and they need resources, so we are doing our bit and, in the process, putting something back into our local communities – some of them, such as Hebden Bridge and Todmorden, have been badly affected.
To find out more about our seminar on the 21st April, please visit www.emwllp.com/latest or email firstname.lastname@example.org, we’d be delighted to hear from you.