South Shields Regeneration: Bubble Curtains proven to reduce noise by 99% during marine construction

Case study: John F Hunt Regeneration uses bubble curtains for noise pollution

Our ground-breaking solution outperformed UK regulatory requirements, protected marine life and saved thousands of pounds in time costs for John F Hunt Regeneration Ltd during piling operations on one of the UK’s most important rivers.

The River Tyne is considered one of the best tidal rivers in the UK for Atlantic Salmon so when contractors were faced with creating a new river wall as part of a £20 million redevelopment of derelict dockyards into residential development at South Shields in Holborn, considerations were needed as to how to protect the salmon from stress yet enable construction works to be undertaken to maximise time and cost efficiencies, particularly as the works coincided with salmon migration seasons.

Our Technical Team designed a solution that overcame the challenges of the construction through the use of our innovative Bubble Curtains for sound attenuation during each phase of piling works. Bubble Curtains can be used for a number of applications, and in this case, the tubing created a 91m long wall of continuous bubbles which wrapped around the area where the high impact piling was taking place to reduce noise pollution during the works.

Using Bubble Tubing® technology meant that work could continue on both tides whilst discharging MMO conditions on marine acoustics, a first for the UK. Most importantly, this vital migratory corridor for salmon was kept open for the duration of the project.

The results were quite dramatic – in fact, startling… we have a workable solution that we’ve proved has a dramatic impact on noise propagation

David McLaren, John F Hunt Marine and Civils Site Manager

What was the customer’s need?

  • To meet the UK marine protection body’s (the MMO) and Environment Agency’s regulatory standards (the limit was set at 160dB) for undertaking construction works affecting migrating Atlantic Salmon
  • To keep construction time costs to a minimum.

 How did we add value?

  • A staggering 99% reduction in noise was achieved during piling operations through the use of our bubble curtain as verified by environmental regulation specialist Subacoustech. This is well within the permitted levels tolerated by salmon.
  • Longer construction hours per day (time restrictions were lifted by both regulators allowing piling works to happen at all hours of a working day)
  • It is reported that the contractors are likely to have saved a week in time and cost efficiencies by using the bubble curtain
  • Bubble Curtains can be made to suit the size of works (in this case they needed a 91m long solution for their works).
  • They have a workable solution and the bubble curtain can be reused for other marine and freshwater construction projects across their network – more cost and time saving efficiencies as well as a more sustainable solution!

 New Civil Engineer, UK’s leading news hub for civil engineering and construction major infrastructure projects, featured this site

  Protecting Marine Wildlife

Salmon are regular users of the river and vulnerable to marine acoustics. Pile driving typically results in multiple rapid increases and decreases in sound pressure in the water. These changes in pressure can damage and even kill fish and other marine wildlife and is unacceptable under UK law.

By using our bubble curtain the sound of impact piling dropped from 163dB to 140dB (well below the regulators limit set at 160dB to protect the salmon).

  Saving Money Without the Cost to Wildlife 

Salmon on the River Tyne migrate for three hours after low tide and for up to four hours on the high tide. This means that traditionally no piling works in river could happen during this period, potentially stopping work for around seven hours a day.  

From a business perspective this meant equipment which can cost in the region of £1,200+ per day would be sitting idle, costing the company money. This solution significantly reduced the cost of the project over its lifetime.

  Low Carbon Solution to Underwater Noise 

As a consequence of less time spent on site and a more efficient work flow the works reduced the overall carbon footprint. The technology itself involves a low energy compressor and parts that can be reused over and over.

  Innovative Approach to Marine and Freshwater Construction

Bubble Curtains have wide application ranging from sound attenuation to silt control, abstraction protection, inlet protection, litter and weed prevention and emergency aeration, and can be scaled to suit the length of works being undertaken.

Video kindly provided by John F Hunt Regeneration. Video credit: LCM Media

Are you considering Bubble Curtains for your next project? Contact Us for technical support and a no-obligation quote.

Frog Environmental are underwater noise, oil, silt control and water quality specialists working with contractors, regulators and consultants within construction, utilities, marine and coastal and public sector industries across the UK and Europe.

We provide innovative solutions with a range of market-leading, sustainable products designed for projects large or small, in oceans, rivers, lakes and ponds. Follow our news and updates, find out more about our products, or contact us for technical support.

Key Stats

  • Bubble Curtains are an industry-leading solution for marine and freshwater construction projects.
  • They have wide application ranging from sound attenuation to silt control, abstraction protection, inlet protection, litter and weed prevention and emergency aeration and can be scaled to suit the length of the works being undertaken.
  • A self-purging design coupled with a five year warranty, Bubble Curtains provide our customers with a reliable and cost-effective low energy and low maintenance solution.
  • Frog Environmental is the only distributor of commercial Bubble Tubing®.