Saturday, January 21, 2017
      You are here : ApplicationsDrainage Channels Drain, ditch & grip blocking plastic piling dams    

Ditch Management, ditch blocks, Grip Blocking, Grip Blocks, peat dams, wetland restoration, flooding control, Plastic Yn Pentyrru Ffosa Yn Cau, Waun Fignen Felen, scottish natural heritage, english nature, natural heritage, restoration, plastic piling dams, sluice, Appendix XVII: Plastic Piling Dams cross-drain culvert, Drain blocking, plastic otter holt, plough-line filling, Peat conservation, Sphagnum moss restoration, Peatland, Restoration, Revegetation, Hydrology, Uplands

Background Minimize

Peatland and Moorland Restoration and Maintenance using Plastic Sheet Piling

In recent years, the maintenance and restoration of the peatlands and moorlands, have become a major environmental practice and research topic.  This is  supported  legislatively and through the actions of several special interest groups, seeking to protect or re-establish the indigenous wildlife and local heritage.  The restoration works  repaired the damage sustained through earlier legislative policy that promoted years of forced drainage, in an effort to increase the amount of grazing land, but which left a legacy of unsupported ditches and drainage channels. 

Research has since indicated that this practice provided very few improvements, whilst several negatives, detrimental locally and globally, have been realised.  This included the effects of soil erosion from these unsupported gullies and ditches, which adversely affected the ecosystem, increasing leaching of nutrients and aerobic decomposition with the reduction of the water table.   It  is  now appreciated that these locations serve as important carbon stores which, when actively forming, can appropriate large volumes of carbon from the atmosphere.

Special Offer - Try a different pile for free! Minimize

In the discussion blog entry shown below, it is highlighted that within most information available on Ditch Blocking, either via reseach papers or the Scottish Executive, the information on plastic piling is either antiquated - describing two of the earlier forms of plastic piling, or simply generically states plastic piling as an option, without considering that there are now many types of plastic piling available.

The point we are trying to address is, not that standardisation is wrong, nor that we disagree with the proposed decision trees, the acknowledgement that plastic piling is a more expensive product to purchase within this applications, when used within a generic design of ditch blocks.   In other words, if all blocks need to be spaced out the same distance, then this clearly ignores the fact that plastic piling, in comparison to the other methods, is a stronger solution.  This is actually appreciated indirectly by the fact that the 5% of blocks using plastic piling are often the biggest or steepest.

 Therefore, why not try a different plastic pile than you are currently using?  For instance, try the Europile, Ultra U or Ultra Z or MultiLock.  Yes, you may pay a little more for the products but the greater strength permutations will clearly permit greater head heights and water pressures to space the blocks out further.   Less blocks = less piles = less cost. *Europile ,MultiLock, Ultra U, Ultra Z

  To put this to the test, we are willing to supply free of charge (not including transport) sufficient of any of the above products *  to produce one typically sized (within reason) ditch block.  Interested?  

Email me quote reference ditchtest

  Please note: This offer is limited to the first ten requests within this promotion.

Typical uses for plastic sheet piling in this application Minimize

Plastic Piling Dam

Traditional Piling Dam Block. 
In this application the pile needs sufficient strength to resist the water pressure, whilst enough rigidity for it to be installed easily.  MultiLock has an additional advantage over conventional plastic piles - it is 500mm wide - one less leakage point per metre.
Piling Dam Incorporating a Sluice Mechanism
Again the advantage of MultiLock is the ability to internally reinforce with timber or steel, enabling open cut outs to support shortened closing sections
Erosion control via the lining of channels Erosion Lining for Ditches
There will always be a need for proper drainage.  By lining the sides of the ditch side erosion can be minimised.


Related Applications Minimize

Farming Floodplains for the future and Staffordshire Washlands

Staffordshire Wildlife

Farming Floodplains for the Future is a national pilot project. It is working with farmers to develop an understanding of how the farmed landscape can be viably managed in ways that will reduce flood risk downstream, while at the same time, enhancing the natural environment.

Plastic Piling dams and Sluices

The Clayton Flixton Carrs Wetland Project

In the Cayton and Flixton Carrs area a great opportunity exists to restore precious wetland habitats providing significant benefits by  paying farmers to create and manage habitats of high conservation or landscape value on their land. These schemes can be used to help reverse recent declines in farm wildlife, especially farmland and wetland bird species.

Four sluices have been installed in ditches in 2008, enabling water tables in adjacent fields to be held close to the surface in April, May and June each year.  The sluices will be left open over autumn and winter, but raised up in early spring to retain water through the wader nesting season. 

 Raising water levels


Plastic Piling Solutions Discussion Point Minimize

Restoration works using plastic sheet piling

Within the context of plastic Sheet Piling, restoration work centres upon the creation of plastic piling dams to block drains and ditches, as in accordance with guidance of Appendix XVII Plastic Piling Dams produced by the Scottish Executive, and documents such as Drain-blocking techniques on blanket peat:   A framework for best practice by A. Armstrong et al.   These documents illustrate the high level of interest in this area, and the importance of standardisation, in terms of methods and associated merits.

In the Armstrong document, it is stated that the principal rationale for drain blocking in UK varies between stakeholders, but in most instances, it is water table recovery which encourages more peat forming species to be established.  Other aims or added benefits are reduction of dissolved organic carbon flux and reduced sediment transfer and erosion.   Armstrong et al continue to state that regardless of the motivation for drain-blocking at a site, it is desirable to create a watertight dam.   If there is no flow, the water table rises, there is no sediment loss, dissolved organic carbon loss is generally decreased (Armstrong et al., in preparation), and pool environments are created which are ecologically beneficial.

Plastic Sheet piling is stated as a preferred method used on around 5% of  dams included in the survey, but in practice and as recommended by these reports,  typically only used on worst case scenarios,  as a means of creating a watertight seal on large drains width greater than 0.7m2 and those with steepness greater than 3 degrees.

The attempt at standardisation and the detailing of a decision tree, although exceptionally important,  do nothing to lend appreciation to the fact that there are now a wide range of plastic sheet piling available.  Some are  cheaper than others, some stronger, some more versatile and finally, there are  varieties of pile interlocks, which create a range of water tightness.  This is a very important point, as the main limiting factor in the use of plastic sheet piling, which is clearly cost related, with many sources stating that plastic sheet piling is one of the more expensive means of drain blocking.  Armstrong et al acknowledge that the creation of a watertight seal is the most effective method to reduce sediment transfer.  Tthis often sets a lower priority to cost.

Appendix XVII is based upon a much older document and, as such, considers plastic piling in terms of the two oldest commercially available options - profiles analogous to our EcoZ or Masterpile.  Its methods are thereby restricted to the limitations of earlier designs.   The consequence of this is that many organisations seeking to use plastic piling will follow antiquated information as a standard, rather than benefit from improvements now available.   Furthermore, despite the recent nature of the Armstrong et al publication, it only considers plastic piling as a single generic option.  This does have implications for a given design, the limits and performance of the design and the cost of that design.  

Evans et al (2005)  state “block spacing should not exceed 4 m and minimum spacing’s could be derived as a function of gully depth.  The target height of a gully block should be 45 cm while 25 cm should be a minimum height.”   So far, no discussion is made as to how this could be increased by using plastic piling, or increased further, by opting for a stronger form of plastic piling.  If one were to arbitrarily state that plastic sheet piling is twice the price of the other methods, one can argue that  with the overall economy of comparable methods, dams can be spaced out three times as far.

There is also  concern in some high flow drains, whereby the practice of creating a double skin of plastic piles is proposed as a solution.   This clearly indicates that instead of using a double skin of plastic piles, the use of a stronger plastic pile is more substantial, as it, in turn will  reduce overall costs and installation time,   Clearly, the use of Plastic Sheet Piling needs further analysis, to provide best value solutions so as not to focus upon the cheapest products, and be further restricted by the limitations of other methods.

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The Friends of Langland Moss - Example of a new pile Minimize

'Friends of Langlands Moss' is a voluntary group, who is working in partnership with South Lanarkshire Council and various conservation and interested parties in conserving this most important habitat which they felt had been neglected over a number of years. The 'Friends' were formally constituted in September 2006 under the convenorship of Richard Naismith to work in partnership with South Lanarkshire Council and others to improve and conserve Langlands Moss Local Nature Reserve for the benefit of all.

In 2008, the 'Friends' installed several dams in the Moss to replace dams which had either been vandalised or had broken as a result of weather conditions. The new dams are entirely constructed from MultiLock Plastic Sheet Piling.   Almost immediately on installation, there was a marked difference in the water level in those areas where the new dams were situated. This necessitated the need for safety signs to alert the public to the depth of the water in the ditches.


  Avoid external Bracing! 

Stronger sheet pile that can subsequently have timbers driven inside!


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