Arla Dairy River Wall Repair

Client: Arla Dairies

Value: £0.7m
Location: Settle, North Yorkshire
Contract Period: Various Phases
Contract Type: Bespoke


Heavy rain and high river levels have caused this river wall to collapse on multiple occasions. The wall forms part of the Arla Dairy boundary, protecting the dairy site from flooding from the very highest river levels.

Howard Civil Engineering was initially called upon to talk through a solution in 2017 and proposed the use of precast 'L' shaped retaining wall sections (for speed) clad with locally sourced stone. The unaffected sections to the side of the failure were reinforced with soil nails.

Works for the first repair were set for late summer 2017.

The works commenced in August 2017, but were hampered by heavy rain causing river levels to rise and fall by over 2m at times. In September of 2017, disaster struck when storms caused the river level to rise over 2m for a long period of time. The speed of the river caused deep scouring at the base of the wall and a further section of the wall collapsed. With more bad weather approaching it was decided to install a temporary bank reinforcement to protect the dairy site over the winter and return early next summer.

The long dry summer of 2018 enabled us to finally complete the work. The team kept going, overcoming the challenges of working within a river with volatile river level history and adapted working methods to meet the challenges.     

In the summers of 2020 and 2021, Howard Civil Engineering was called upon to repair different sections of the wall which had collapsed into the River Ribble. We excavated the wall, formed a dam, and cast a concrete base. Pree-cast concrete walls were then placed on top before cladding with a mixture of new and recovered stone. 


  • Total of 30m long stretch of wall, 5m high
  • Design and construct solution
  • Approval of method statements by the Environmental Agency to satisfy working within the river together with the salmon spawning season
  • Fish rescue plan prior to dam installation and during dam pumping out
  • Working within a constrained area within working milk processing site
  • Diversion of power cables to rear of wall and protection of service trench to rear of wall
  • Installation of an Environmental Agency-approved temporary cofferdam. Sand filled aggregate bags with a plastic lining
  • Reinforced concrete foundation
  • Precast ‘L’ shaped retaining wall sections
  • Stone cladding to tie in with existing sections
  • Placement of boulders to base of wall to prevent further scouring


Praise from our stakeholders

'Howard Civil Engineering exceeded our expectations of cleanliness and health and safety on-site.'

- John Caswell, PTD Manager, Arla Foods

'[Howard Civil Engineering] did a fantastic job with the river wall. Paul [McGarry] was leading the job and did a top job.'

- James Fox, Site Director, Arla Foods

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