Inverness Airport 003

Surface Drainage Works, Inverness Airport

These major works at Inverness Airport are a key step on our journey to achieving Environmental Excellence.

Graeme Bell | Inverness Airport General Manager, Highlands and Islands Airports Limited

Local spend
Local employment (within 10 miles)
SME Spend

Improvements and upgrades to the primary surface water drainage swales at Inverness Airport helps them to remain compliant with Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) requirements.

Due to historic drainage issues at the airport, Balfour Beatty were commissioned to carry out surface treatment and drainage works by Highlands and Islands Airport Limited (HIAL) via the SCAPE Scotland Civil Engineering framework.

Swales are the primary collection points for surface water drainage at the airport. Works delivered to improve and upgrade the existing swales included:

  • Installing an impermeable liner in 10 existing swales to mitigate ground water contamination
  • Widening of two swales upstream of the north reed bed to provide additional storage from water re-circulated from the reed bed treatment facility
  • The diversion of two existing rising mains used to recirculate run-off requiring further treatment
  • Installation of new headwalls and associated drain connections as well as a new three-pipe culvert crossing between the two widened swales
  • Reuse of excavated material by re-profiling adjacent landscaped areas

Working closely with SEPA to make sure legislative requirements were met.

The airport is in an environmentally sensitive area that is rich in wildlife and ecosystems. As part of Balfour Beatty’s offering on all SCAPE Scotland Civil Engineering projects, they assessed the impact of works on the biodiversity of the area and offered options to create a biodiversity net gain.

Initial assessment identified that without mitigation, an 8.5% biodiversity loss would occur as a result of the project. Working collaboratively with Highlands and Islands Airports and NatureScot, Balfour Beatty clearly set out how to avoid this and how to create a 5% biodiversity net gain, with the net gain being achieved through using a bespoke seed mix of plants genetically suited to the local environment.

With HIAL’s contracted requirement to benefit the local community – both during and after construction - and Balfour Beatty’s own well-established approach to generating social value, their project team designed a bespoke social impact action plan. The plan focussed on key areas including:

  • Local regional spend
  • Creation of local job opportunities
  • Supporting young people into work
  • Offering meaningful work experience placements
  • Volunteering to support local community projects.

As a result of the plan and well-established approach to generating social value Balfour Beatty were able to:

  • Generate a 33% social value add for every £1 spent
  • Ensure 100% of spend was with SME’s
  • Employ 97% of the workforce within 40 miles of the project
  • Receive a Considerate Constructors scheme score of 42, earning a certificate of excellence for their focus on the local community and high standards delivered by the project team
  • Create 7 weeks of work experience placements
  • Provide 12 hours of support for young people looking to progress into employment

Alongside this, Balfour Beatty’s teams also looked for innovative ways to ensure they reduced their environmental impact and carbon emissions. Utilising a hybrid solar pod generator to power one of the remote site compounds situated between the airport runway and taxiway, they were able to save 21.2 tonnes of C02, 7,678 litres of diesel and reduced noise pollution.

Balfour Beatty Colour


Project value




SME engagement


SME spend


SME spend

£3.5 million

Local spend within 40 miles


Local spend within 40 miles

£2.9 million

Local employment within 10 miles


Additional social value

£2.67 million

Provision of meaningful work placements or pre-employment courses

6 weeks

Saving to HIAL in cost efficiency and inflation savings


Time dedicated to support young people into work

12 hours

Procurement time saving from using SCAPE framework compared to traditional OJEU

32 weeks

Estimated cost saving from using SCAPE framework compared to traditional OJEU


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