Blog post

Creating Space for Water - Flood Mitigation in Infrastructure Planning

Oct 4, 2021

by Phil Williams ( and Peder Bøcher (peder@scalgo)

The Environmental Protection Group Limited (EPG) used SCALGO Live when planning a new high-speed railway, HS2, that link eight of Britain's 10 largest cities and around 30 million people.

The HS2 project is one of Britain's most ambitious infrastructure projects in recent history - and its biggest environmental project ever.

Engineers from the EPG used SCALGO Live when planning flood mitigation for a part of the HS2 that lies in flood prone areas, Flood Zone 2 and 3 in the Environment Agency's River Flood maps. The area was demanding both in terms of high flood risk, but also with regards to highly modified rivers and streams with great need for improved biodiversity.

When completed, HS2 will include 343 miles of track and over 25 stations, linking London, Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester, with connectivity to the existing rail network.

Visualisations - Seeing the options in SCALGO Live

Already in the tender, EPG used SCALGO Live to describe the project approach, showing that detailed terrain editing and interactive flood mitigation analyses go a long way when planning flood mitigation.

"The panel was blown away by the visualisations. It enhanced our package to win the project. In fact, without SCALGO, we would have needed river modelling programs that EPG does not have," says EPG's Phil Williams.

For EPG, SCALGO Live provided a cost-effective way to experiment with, and visualise, solutions that were easy to communicate to project partners and owners, which included Landscape Architects TEP, the lead company in the tender, and authorities like Environment Agency (EA) and other relevant stakeholders.

Two scenarios were created: The 'Maximum Volume Only', aimed at maximizing flood mitigation; and the 'Balanced Option', which considered biodiversity and recreational values in terrain planning.

Detailed terrain editing - Shaping Terrain and Re-creating History

EPG used terrain editing tools in SCALGO Live to create realistic terrain options for storing water upstream and reducing flooding downstream.

The flood analysis in SCALGO Live made it easy to assess storage capacities and flow paths and to evaluate the trade-off between maximizing storage and increasing biodiversity.

"Our task was not only to create maximum storage capacity, but to do it in a way that also enhanced biodiversity and recreational value for the area. This puts high demands on how the terrain should be shaped and with SCALGO Live's tools this made the task easier," Phil explains.

SCALGO Live's contour line tools resulting in a terrain and flood model.

"Halfway though the project SCALGO Live released the new contour line tools, which further improved our ability to shape the terrain and re-create history - meaning that we wanted to re-meander rivers and create ponds to give the area back to nature"

Collaboration - Creating more than just a big hole in the ground...

Succeeding with such detailed terrain planning required close collaboration with landscape architects and biologists from The Environment Partnership (TEP).

"In this project we were in the constant dialogue with our partners in order to ensure that terrains are shaped in a way that allows for improved biodiversity." Phil says. "we followed the requirements for depths and sizes of the ponds, reserving areas for, for example, woodland and paths."

The end result are detailed terrain plans that closely reflect the visions of TEP and an initial assessment of earthworks to help in budgeting.

Exporting from SCALGO Live - Continuing the project

Detailed terrain editing in the early stage of a project like this means that initial plans can be highly accurate.

In addition, terrain modifications and scenarios can be easily exported from SCALGO Live in a variety of vector raster formats. This makes it easy to continue planning in other software programs and modelling tools later in the project.

"SCALGO Live is a great place to start projects like this and now we have detailed shapefiles and other data readily available for the next steps," Phil says.

3D image of the area designed by TEP.

Want to learn more about how SCALGO Live can help you understand, design and communicate when working with flood mitigation? Contact Peder at or +44 2036 301 219 (UK) and +45 8188 2644 (DK).

If you want to learn more about the HS2 project you can watch this video about the high-speed railway.