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Agratas win for Kelston Sparkes on Gravity site

by Kyle Molyneux  |  Thu 28 Mar 2024

Agratas win for Kelston Sparkes on Gravity site

Kelston Sparkes has confirmed that it has been appointed by Agratas – the battery manufacturing arm of Tata – to complete the groundworks for the company’s multi-million-pound gigafactory on the Gravity site in Bridgwater, Somerset.

The company is no stranger to the site and conditions and 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 high-tech 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 of over 1km in length requiring some 1 million tonnes of materials imported to site. The low-lying site is far from straightforward, 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 foresight of Paul Lowndes, Programme Director at Gravity and David Swann, Commercial Director at Kelston Sparkes. In a win for low carbon, common sense 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.

“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.”

Joe Hibberd is Project Manager for Agratas and has overseen the plans for the mega factory on the Gravity site. “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.”

David Swann, Contracts Director at Kelston Sparkes, is clearly delighted at the appointment and concurs that it is a common sense move for all parties. “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,” David added.

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