Photography credit: Ray Foley

Southbay Civil Engineering Limited together with its specialist delivery partner Red7Marine are undertaking critical works to 3no. Aids to Navigation structures in New Brighton, on behalf of Wirral Borough Council. A collaborative working relationship has been maintained with the council’s project manager, Coastal Engineering UK, to deliver this technically and operationally challenging contract during the height of the tourist season.

New Brighton is a seaside resort forming part of the town of Wallasey within the Metropolitan Borough of Wirral, Merseyside. Located within an area of foreshore known as Fort Perch Rock, 3no. Aids to Navigation structures were constructed in the 1980’s to mark submerged offshore coastal defences, providing safe navigation within the Mersey Estuary.

Following several recent inspections of the structures by client Wirral Borough Council, significant corrosion was identified, resulting in a decision to replace the existing structures, an obligation under the Merchant Shipping Act 1995. The project was subsequently awarded to Southbay Civil Engineering Limited as a two stage ECI contract. Phase 1 involved the agreement of target cost and finalising the design of the new structures. Phase 2 involved the onsite construction of the Navigation structures.

The initial proposed design retained the existing tripod arrangement of installing 3no. tubular steel piles. However, due to a restricted budget, and the need to install the piles within a tidal environment, Southbay Civil Engineering Limited together with the council successfully developed an alternative, simplified design. This design involved replacing the tripod arrangement with a single 508mm diameter, concrete filled monopile complete with sleeve.

The 3no. navigational structures are being installed from Red7Marine’s 250 tonne Haven Seariser 1 jack-up barge, due to the need to work within the intertidal zone. This includes a two-tier piling gate mounted on the side of the barge. In addition to a piled foundation, the Navigational Aid’s also includes a superstructure, which consists of a gantry complete with handrailing. The superstructure was prefabricated off-site, allowing it to be installed in a single lift, thereby minimising the onsite programme. The new navigational structures include a fixed light which can be seen for three nautical miles. Upon completion the existing structures will be demolished.

A significant effort has been made to engage with the local supply chain in accordance with the councils ‘Community Wealth Building Agenda’. Carmet Marine, who are based in the Wirral, were awarded a contract to supply all supporting vessels, and to co-ordinate the movements of specialist marine plant. This has involved transporting the Jack Up Barge to all 3 separate Navigational Aid locations.

The contract involves a high level of public interface, with works programmed to coincide with the summer months due to the favourable weather conditions. As a result, Beach Marshalls have been provided to ensure the public remain segregated from the site at all times, as well as ensuring plant and materials can safely access the Jack Up Barge.

Neil Thomas, Wirral Council’s Flood and Coastal Risk Manager added: “Logistically, this was always going to be a complex project given that the site is very heavily environmentally designated and the assented timings of the works were coincident with peak tourist season. Wirral Council were clear about the site constraints at tender stage and the requirement of the bidders to provide detailed quality information, including that relating to social value. Southbay Civil Engineering Limited clearly understood the Council’s requirements, were willing to work in partnership in developing a design which has reduced scheme costs and have delivered at every stage of the contract. The working relationship between all parties has been excellent and has been a primary factor in the successful delivery of the project.”

Antony Ballantyne, Operations Director at Southbay Civil Engineering Limited comments: “The success of this project is testament to the collaborative working relationship maintained between all parties. By value engineering the initial design we have arrived at a solution which not only delivers costs savings to our client, but crucially reduced the programme duration at the height of the tourist season. The extensive pre-planning during phase 1 of the contract provided all parties with confidence in their individual roles in successfully delivering this scheme. In addition, we have also greatly benefited from engaging with the local supply chain, whose experience and skill set has been invaluable throughout contract delivery”.

Kristen Branford, Managing Director at Red7Marine comments: “This is an exciting project for Red7Marine with high criticality due to the integral role that the navigation beacons play on the Mersey Estuary. Working collaboratively with Southbay Civil Engineering, we have been able to provide a successful and efficient marine solution bespoke to the client.

Our flexibility and ability to adapt differently to projects enables us to respond quickly and effectively to the needs of clients and evolving projects. With a purpose-built fleet and an ability to fabricate custom equipment, Red7Marine is uniquely positioned to meet the requirements of projects with limited accessibility, environmental considerations and strict time frames.”