Company makes an emergency return to boost town’s sea defences ahead of winter storms
AGGREGATE Industries recently returned to Minehead, in Somerset, to provide an emergency supply of 14,500 tonnes of armour-stone to help boost the town’s sea defences ahead of winter in a record six-week turnaround.
Led by the Environment Agency, the emergency project, located three miles from Blue Anchor beach, was focused on ensuring the continued integrity of the existing sea wall by making vital repairs to areas which had been damaged as a result of sea erosion ahead of winter.
With time of the essence, there was a risk that without remedial action a further one or two storms could put up to 800 nearby properties at serious risk of flooding.
The project follows a similar £3.8 million scheme which was completed in September 2023. Contracted by Somerset Council and headed up by Kier, this saw Aggregate Industries supply 13,500 tonnes of armour-stone to protect a section of the B3191 road at Blue Anchor beach.
Indicative of the success of this previous project, the more recent emergency repair works project saw the Environment Agency appoint Kier as the main contractor who, in turn, once again called on Aggregate Industries for materials supply and delivery.
John Buttivant, coastal engineer with the Environment Agency, said: ‘As we all know too well, Britain’s weather is becoming more extreme than ever, so time really was of the essence for us to be able to address the emergency repair requirements before winter hit.
‘We chose to use Aggregate Industries because of their experience with the nearby scheme that they’ve just completed at Blue Anchor. This allowed us to benefit from the same innovative approach, materials, equipment, and even the same team, once again combined with Kier at the helm to deliver the project.
‘As with the previous scheme, it worked incredibly well, helping us to not only keep to an incredibly tight delivery framework, but also to benefit from economies of scale and an overall reduced carbon footprint too.’
To meet the brief in the most efficient and sustainable means possible, Aggregate Industries once again took to the water and supplied and transported the armour-stone directly from their Glensanda super quarry, in Scotland, to a specified offshore anchorage position.
From there it was transferred to Aggregate Industries’ own SeaRock tug and barge combination to access the allocated landing area on the beach and complete the final stage of the shipment. This innovative approach helped keep the meticulously tight programme on schedule while also eliminating thousands of rural lorry movements.
Matt Phillips, senior project manager at Kier, said: ‘The project was hugely challenging, given the pace and scale of the scheme. Usually, this is not the type of project you can get off the ground in a few weeks, given the complexity associated with co-ordinating everything from the shipping, tugs, rocks, and barges through to the ground teams to deliver it all.
‘Moreover, some suppliers simply wouldn’t have the capabilities to provide the vast quantity of materials required at such short notice. Fortunately, having previously worked on the Blue Anchor scheme, we have already established a good working relationship with Aggregates Industries and were able to deliver a highly co-ordinated effort in a very short space of time.’
Nick Gilbert, business development manager at Aggregate Industries, added: ‘This really was no mean feat, requiring us to effectively deliver on a job that would usually take a six months lead time, in just six weeks.
‘However, through our dynamic experience in this area, along with our unique capabilities, such as having our own sea barge and a vast amount of rock on stock, we were able to pull it off. We couldn’t be prouder of our team for their sheer hard work and grit without which it wouldn’t have been possible.’