Conference to tackle flooing and drought

Africa project: An aerial view of Oceans ESU's initial installation on the Heglig oilfield, Sudan.
Africa project: An aerial view of Oceans ESU's initial installation on the Heglig oilfield, Sudan.
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SOUTH Yorkshire has been chosen as the venue for a major conference on the latest innovations to prevent damage by drought and flooding.

We Lead – the Water, Environment, Land, Energy and Agriculture Development conference, takes place in January and is being organised by Lucian Gill, founder of Barnsley Business and Innovation Centre-based Oceans ESU.

Mr Gill pioneered the use of reed beds to reduce flooding and clean up pollution; a technique that has been adopted by some of the world’s largest companies in their sectors, including ICI and British Steel.

The company hit the headlines earlier this year when it was called in by the Greater Nile Petroleum Operating Company to clean up contaminated water from Africa’s on-shore oilfields.

Oceans ESU is currently designing reed bed systems to treat waste water for an ammonia production facility in Malaysia and has installed two smaller schemes in South Africa which treat run-off from petrol stations.

In the UK, Oceans ESU has been involved with the former ICI chemical plant at Billingham, in the North East, since 1986. A £2.5m reed bed system originally built to dispose of wastewater effluent produced on site is still functioning and is used to clean gulley and sweeper water from local councils.

Other UK contracts involve cleaning waste effluent from a wide spectrum of industries such as landfill composting, dairy and manufacturing.

“The issue of water sustainability is moving up the business agenda, with more organisations viewing water as a risk to their business,” said an Oceans ESU spokesman.

“Anyone who is working with land, water and energy will find this conference of significant interest, as we have assembled an impressive line-up of industry experts and innovators who will share their experiences and examples from live case studies.”

The conference takes place at Cubley Hall, Penistone on Thursday, January 24.

Speakers will include Dr Virginia Stovin, a senior lecturer at Sheffield University whose research has focused on sustainable urban drainage systems (SUDS) and water expert Julian Jones, a director at a not-for-profit organisation, Water 21, which is behind a pioneering scheme to protect dozens of homes from flooding in Stroud, which it believes could also provide a £250,000 a year boost to the local economy.