Cumbria’s Infrastructure Recovery Programme merits a closer look

Dan Phillips, Group Practice Lead at Mott MacDonald, presented some of the lessons from the extraordiary Cumbria Infrastructure Reconstruction Programme, at this Autumn’s Project Challenge.

I was so impressed by what he had to say, I thought I would endeavour to collate as much as I could on the story within the Major Projects Knowledge Hub. It is Programme that offers a raft of lessons – in terms of programme management, engineering, citizen and supply chain engagement.

Most of what I have been able to glean is fragmentary and I’d welcome the opportunity to capture the learning more coherently. Perhaps that will come later, if we can persuade one of the parties involved to write it up for the Major Projects Knowledge Hub. For those who are members of the Major Projects Association, there will be the chance to hear more about the programme at our full day seminar on 8th November:

Managing Urgent and Emergency Projects

The headlines behind the programme

New Civil Engineer on 14th March, outlined the scale of the damage from Storm Desmond:

“Over seven days in December 2015, Storm Desmond broke UK rainfall records as it pummelled Cumbria with more than 1.15trillion litres of rainfall.

Flood defences designed to withstand a one in 200 year event were overtopped and more than 18,000 properties lost power, while the Army was drafted in to help residents trapped in their homes.

As the initial chaos subsided, the scale of the damage to the county’s infrastructure became clear. Main roads, like the A591, had been half washed away and many historic bridges had crumbled into swollen rivers. More than 2,000 businesses were affected, as Cumbria’s connectivity was severely compromised, costing the county’s tourism-based economy around £500M.

Some sense of what was achieved

You can glean a taste of what the programme represented from these technical articles and other web commentary:

The approach to contracting was an important part of the story, as highlighted in this NEC case study.

NEC in action case study

Storm Desmond was Cumbria’s biggest on record and devastated huge swathes of infrastructure. Lucy Alderson’s February 2018 article reported on how work had progressed as the rebuilding programme reached its halfway point.

Construction news article

The Infrastructure Recovery Programme has won numerous awards and justifiably so!

Reporting on the awards in Your Cumbria News

Just two examples of the engineering excellence that the programme demonstrated: Bell and Brougham Old bridges


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