SenSat | Leeds Flood Alleviation Scheme Case Study


Faster and safer:

Solutions that curtail emerging flood risks



BAM Nuttall - one of the UK's  largest construction and

engineering companies  - called upon SenSat to replicate a 12km flood corridor in Leeds. The resulting digital simulations helped them better understand flood risks and design engineering mitigations.

Peter Slater

26.11.2018 // 4 minute read

Flood risk is on the increase in the UK. On 26 December 2015, Leeds experienced significant and widespread flooding from some of the highest river levels ever recorded. In the second phase of alleviation works, the River Aire catchment area is being considered to reduce flood risk in Leeds, including areas such as Kirkstall and Stourton. Accurate topography and surface mapping are crucial to understanding flooding better. For this SenSat, was called in to survey a large flood corridor.

The Project


Designing flood defence structures and systems can be challenging, especially when the available survey data on the existing waterfront is outdated and incomplete. The design team needed to validate their designs against the realities of the 12km complex urban/river interface ground space, where the contracting team would work. 

This assessment covers some areas including working spaces, safety, design constructability, environmental impact, and several other important engineering processes.

The Challenges

The client understood that the existing drawings and surveys were inadequate, hence, commissioning a traditional ground-based survey was difficult as the work areas were very hard to access from the ground.  

A combination of old riverfronts, dilapidated embankments, and slippery moss slipways was dangerous to access or walk across. This increased the estimated time and cost of a full survey. To make matters even worse, working near a body of water is seen as very risky by the HSE. As a result, BAM would have spent a lot of time and money developing a safe system of work and RAMS which were safety-compliant.

Partnering for Success 

SenSat’s experienced team of engineers surveyed and inspected the entire riverfront in just two days, working closely with the client’s designers to ensure a satisfactory output. SenSat operates with a continued 100% safety record, reducing the working hours on site by over 95% compared to the traditional means. Also, when compared to a helicopter or plane the UAV system:

  • can’t be heard at ground level (Sub 40dB at ground level)

  • is not noticeable to residents

  • produces 1000 x fewer lifecycle emissions per km


To allow BAM’s design team to validate flood alleviation plans, a scan to CAD was also completed and visualised on SenSat’s cloud-based platform, Mapp®. This allowed the client to discuss and manage their project in a virtual and intuitive way, which is also easily shareable while engaging all stakeholders involved.

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