Hinkley Point spoil repurposed for Agratas battery plant

Laying a piling mat at Gravity works

As we reported last month, Kelston Sparkes has been appointed by Agratas – the battery manufacturing arm of Tata – to undertake the groundworks for a multi-million-pound gigafactory factory on the Gravity Smart Campus in Puriton, Bridgwater.

Kelston Sparkes has been working for Gravity for two years undertaking preliminary groundworks on the land of the former Royal Ordnance factory.  Acquired by BAE in the 1970s as a production site, it was ultimately closed in 2008 and bought by Gravity in 2017 for development into a business park.

The groundworks contract originally agreed with Gravity has now transferred to Agratas and covers two-thirds of the site. It will run for a further two years to include the groundworks, earthworks and a huge piling-mat installation, more 1km long and requiring a million tonnes of materials imported to site. The low-lying site is far from straightforward, Kelston Sparkes reports, with a high water table requiring the installation of further rhynes to provide natural drainage under the proposed building.

In line with planning approvals and the ethos behind the development, the project is successfully working within CLEAR and WRAP protocols thanks to the initiative of Gravity programme director Paul Lowndes and Kelston Sparkes commercial director David Swann.

It was agreed that materials recovered from the adjacent Hinkley Point Connection scheme would be brought to site and recycled, repurposed and re-used in the groundworks.

Paul Lowndes said: “Kelston Sparkes is completing the groundworks for the Hinkley Connection overhead lines project with two of the T-pylons being installed on Gravity land. On reinstatement it made sense that the extracted stone would remain on site for our use.

“David from Kelston Sparkes called me and a dialogue was started, which led to us taking all recovered materials from Hinkley Point and stockpiling them ready for our project. As well as the carbon saving from extraction of raw materials, this has led to a hugely reduced transport carbon footprint. It ultimately made sense to work with the team at Kelston Sparkes to carry out the preliminary groundworks here too.”

Digging rhynes
Digging rhynes

Agratas project manager Joe Hibberd said: “The partnership with Gravity and Kelston Sparkes has worked well, so it was logical to keep the existing groundworks team on the project. They are already on the ground doing a great job and are fully abreast of the site and ground conditions. The team is also a perfect match for our local agenda brief which we agreed with the relevant authorities. A huge plus is the continued access to re-used materials from the overhead lines, which is not just a sustainable use of old materials, but part of our zero to landfill aspirations and our low carbon agenda.”

Kelston Sparkes contracts director David Swann added: “As well as access to huge quantities of materials that can be recycled and re-used, we also have the contract with local quarries for crushing and screening and we buy back a lot of that material for the Gravity site which keeps the local economy buoyant. We’ve also retained the specialist skills of another local sub-contractor, JD Pope, who provide demolition services on site and have recovered thousands of tonnes of concrete for crushing and re-use. Our partnership with Exeter-based Ashfield Solutions – environmental clerk of works – has meant that we have successfully treated tonnes and tonnes of contaminated soil and reused it in the landscaping areas, further minimising any carbon impact of the project. It’s a very well thought out project and we are proud to be involved.”

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