Barnsley company plays part in moorland restoration project
9 January 2012
A Barnsley company is taking to the moors to help restore one of the rarest wildlife habitats in the world and combat climate change.
AVQ Water Solutions has created specialist equipment that will measure water run-off on three sites on Exmoor and Dartmoor over coming years.
The innovative devices will help experts to assess the effectiveness of work to ‘rewet’ blanket bog, which is water-logged peatland. The work is part of the award-winning Mires on the Moors project, an initiative by South West Water.
The prestigious contract has helped AVQ expand into new premises in a unit at Redbrook Business Park, at Wilthorpe, and turnover is expected to increase three-fold this year.
Peat holds vast quantities of water and slows down water run-off during and after heavy rain. As the climate changes, this is important for flood protection as well as for management of water supplies.
The Mires on the Moors scheme essentially involves blocking up drainage ditches across thousands of hectares of peatland.
It will benefit the ecological condition of Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI’s) as well as wildlife. The importance of blanket bog is recognised in Europe by its inclusion in the EU Habitats Directive as a priority habitat.
AVQ’s team is making, and fitting, three flumes that go up to a metre into the ground and create an artificial channel of water allowing water flow to be measured precisely. Data from a flow metre is then fed every 15 minutes to University of Exeter researchers.
AVQ’s director Denham Jobling said the company had installed a four-metre long flume on Exmoor, which is a trapezoidal shape – basically four-sided with two of its sides parallel. The device is capable of accurately measuring flows up to 1,500 litres a second. The second Exmoor flume is six metres in length and, when it is installed shortly, it will be capable of measuring up to 3,000 litres of water a second.
Denham said: “In order to get the flume to the first site we designed it so it could be flat-packed and also bought a quad bike and trailer to handle the off-road terrain. The third device, to go on Dartmoor this spring, is in a particularly remote spot so one of the options being considered is for us to work with the British Army to fly the equipment in by helicopter!
“Another challenge for us is ensuring that the equipment is enforced strongly enough while causing minimum impact to the environment. This is a prestigious environmental project and we’re really pleased to be able to play a part.”
The ‘Mires on the Moors’ project, which began in April 2010 and will run for five years, is led and mostly funded by South West Water and, involves partners including the Dartmoor and Exmoor National Park Authorities, Natural England, The Environment Agency and the Duchy of Cornwall. It earned a Water Industry Achievement Award in 2009.
Dr David Smith, who manages the work on Exmoor for South West Water and oversees water monitoring on all three sites, said: “The equipment provided by AVQ is both innovative and advanced and, as far as we know, a system quite like this hasn’t been put into moorland before.”
AVQ makes a range of flumes and other devices that control and measure water flow in PVC and fibreglass and also in stainless steel. They are primarily used by companies to monitor the abstraction and replacement of water from rivers, on water treatment plants and in sewer networks.
By offering a complete in-house package from design to installation and maintenance, it is thought to be the only enterprise of its kind in the country.
AVQ has recently supplied devices to mining companies in South Africa and Ghana and has enquiries from Dubai and China. Closer to home, AVQ is working with a number of companies including Rolls Royce, Scottish Water and Severn Trent Water as well as several leading construction firms. In addition, AVQ has just installed five flumes at a nuclear power plant in Wales.
AVQ also supplies a range of flow meters and sampling equipment and offers other related environmental services. These include surveys, trade effluent monitoring and reporting and services to help businesses comply with the Environment Agency's Monitoring Certification Scheme MCERTS.
AVQ’s growth is being bolstered by specialists at Enterprising Barnsley, which offers a range of free support to local companies with growth potential. Enterprising Barnsley is a partnership between Barnsley Development Agency, Barnsley Business and Innovation Centre and the University of Huddersfield’s Barnsley Campus.
Denham said: “As well as help to formalise a business plan, Enterprising Barnsley has offered expert assistance with health and safety and human resources. This has allowed us to bring sub-contractors in-house and we expect to be able to create more jobs as we expand further.”
The Enterprising Barnsley programme has attracted £2.89m investment from the European Regional Development Fund as part of Europe’s support for the region’s economic development through the Yorkshire and Humber ERDF Programme.
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