Case Studies

Birmingham Airport

Runway Extension and A45 Transport Corridor Improvement Scheme


Birmingham Airport is the UK’s third largest airport outside London, and the UK’s seventh largest overall, handling 9.6 million passengers each year. It currently serves 143 direct scheduled and charter routes and offers an additional 279 possible connections worldwide. With half a million businesses in its catchment, it has the second largest demand for business travel, second only to Heathrow at 600 thousand. The majority of these businesses are high value manufacturing companies that currently export goods worth over £25 billion each year to long haul markets but without any direct air links. Each year 3 million business people from the airport’s catchment must therefore travel to London’s Heathrow Airport.


The A45 is a main arterial route through the West Midlands serving the UK’s largest regional manufacturing hub and providing a road link between the cities of Birmingham and Coventry.


Commissioned by VolkerFitzpatrick Colas JV, on behalf of its client Birmingham International Airport, SDS was tasked to supply and install surface water and sustainable drainage systems.


The Airport plans to Increase passenger traffic by 27 million and transport movements by 500 thousand with the ultimate goal of achieving “National Airport” status. Costing circa £65 million, the project’s primary objective is to enable a greater range of long haul aircraft to use the airport and therefore serve significant global destinations directly including China, South America, Japan and the west coast of the USA. To achieve this the Airport is extending its runway from 2.6km to 3km, during the period Summer 2013 to Spring 2014, and, from Summer 2012 to Autumn 2013, building a new 2km horse shoe shaped diversion of the A45 making room for the longer runway.

How it works

SDS supplied and installed 3 bespoke GEOlight® attenuation tanks for the roadside scheme and 1 bespoke GEOlight® attenuation tank airside; together these have a combined capacity of 1700m3.


The tanks have been used with hydrodynamic separators in order to extract pollutants such as oil.


The new road routing and runway extension increased significantly the impact on both the quality and quantity of surface water runoff; the design, incorporating the SDS tanks, has assisted in controlling to an acceptable level the risk of flooding and contamination of watercourses.


The potentially high loading, both airside and landside, demanded that the bespoke tanks were able to cope with the increase in volume of high speed traffic on the dual carriageway and in the number and weight of aircraft movements at the airport.


Despite the very short time frame available and the inclement February weather, which required the project to be completed in deep snow, the tanks have been installed quickly and within the restrictions of the main contractor’s programme.

Birmingham Airport Runway Extension

Officially opened in July 1939, Birmingham Airport opened its second terminal, the ‘Eurohub’, in 1991 which was the first terminal in the world to combine domestic and international passengers. The new runway extension now provides long haul flights to the emerging economies of the world such as China, Brazil and South Africa.

What our other Customers say

GEOlight® geocellular storage from SDS was the obvious choice for the water management solution designed by Ulrich Groenewald of the engineering project team from AECOM, in coordination with SDS. We were able to work with the architect to deliver a drainage design that satisfied regulations and reflected our analysis of what rainfall we might expect.

Michael Orr, Principal Engineer, AECOM

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