Environmental Care

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Spencer ECA undertakes pitching stonework repairs at Grade II listed Llanishen Reservoir

Spencer ECA undertakes pitching stonework repairs at Grade II listed Llanishen Reservoir

August 2018

Spencer ECA has returned to Llanishen Reservoir to undertake additional work, this time to restore the 1886 Victorian internal wall stone pitching to its former glory, following decades of mothballing the facility and the subsequent tree and vegetation growth.

The famous north Cardiff Grade II listed landmark is a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), so Spencer ECA was able to bring the necessary specialist expertise needed to undertake such a sensitive task. Working on behalf of Lewis Civil Engineering and Dŵr Cymru/Welsh Water, the works involved undertaking repairs to the existing stone pitching where stones were missing and where trees and vegetation had grown through the stone pitching pushing the stones out. It’s a very delicate job, employing a grab machine to lift some of the heaviest Victorian pitching stones. Each stone has to be lifted, debris/tree roots removed completely, stones cleaned and placed back securely. And lifting each stone isn’t easy, as they have been placed in contact with adjacent stones, specifically to prevent them moving when submerged in water.

Clearing vegetation varies from pulling out small plants, cutting out small saplings and removing larger saplings – where the root system has to be dug out, sometimes to a depth of 500mm, to remove the root ball. In these cases the hole is then backfilled with well-compacted puddle clay to within 25mm of the underside of the pitching level, before 25mm of well-graded aggregate is added and the pitching stones placed precisely back in position.

Each process ensures the vegetation cannot grow back and the pitching stones are repaired and replaced as securely as they were originally placed there 132 years ago.

Llanishen Reservoir’s embankment is 10 metres (33ft) high and 1,173 metres (3,848ft) long, and care is taken to ensure that the repaired pitching stones have a uniformed surface, a total of nearly 700m2 of repairs have been carried out.

Spencer ECA helps return Llanishen Reservoir back to its former glory

Spencer ECA helps return Llanishen Reservoir back to its former glory

December 2017

Spencer ECA is helping Dŵr Cymru/Welsh Water return Llanishen Reservoir back to its former glory by undertaking an ecologically sensitive vegetation clearance and ground maintenance project at the famous north Cardiff landmark.

Originally completed in 1886, the Victorian reservoir was a major supplier of water to the city of Cardiff until it became redundant in the mid-1970s. With a maximum surface area of water of 23.8 hectares (59 acres) and a capacity of almost 1.5 million cubic metres, it later became the ideal home for the Cardiff Sailing Centre – and it was used for both leisure activities and supplying water to the Celsa steel works until it was drained-down in 2010.

With a new 999-year lease in place, Dŵr Cymru/Welsh Water is planning to refill Llanishen Reservoir – but after seven years of neglect, resulting in the growth of willow trees and other vegetation in the reservoir bowl, a significant and sensitive ground clearance operation is required.

The area is a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), due, in part, to the presence of 29 different species of waxcap fungi. That makes access to, and moving around, the site a highly sensitive task – and working with an on-site ecologist, appropriate machines and methods that limit damage to the delicate mycology within the soil are employed.

As well as a workforce of up to 10 highly-skilled land clearance experts, Spencer ECA also provides an Environmental Advisor role to the main contractor, Lewis Civil Engineering – with regular visits by Jonathan Clement BSc. MSc. MCIEEM to audit the site.

It’s the type of tricky ground clearance project that Spencer ECA excels at, with a muddy and uneven surface making the terrain a difficult place to work. Using small 3.5 tonne excavators and manual chainsaws, the trees (many as much as five metres high) have been cleared. After that, the stumps will be removed from the stonework and repairs made to the reservoir embankment’s stone pitching.

Working closely with Natural Resources Wales to ensure the site’s natural flora and fauna are protected, the 131-year old Llanishen Reservoir will be as good as new once all Dŵr Cymru/Welsh Water’s restorations are complete – thanks, in part, to the specialist ground clearance work of Spencer ECA.

Spencer ECA sponsors horticultural expedition to Tasmania

Spencer ECA sponsors horticultural expedition to Tasmania

November 2017

Land management specialists Spencer ECA is sponsoring an expedition to Tasmania, where seeds and samples will be collected from a wide range of plants for conservation, research, education and horticulture.

The expedition, led by Stephen Herrington of the National Trust, is an opportunity to research and retrace the footsteps of one of the significant plant collectors of the 20th Century, Harold Comber, who explored Tasmania in 1930 and re-collect species collected by him that have since become lost in horticulture.

Seeds collected will be raised in various Botanic Gardens around the UK, including the National Botanic Garden of Wales near Llanarthney in Carmarthenshire. This will become part of its new Arboretum 2022 Project, which will comprise of six zones, representing different temperate woodland regions from around the world. One of the regions is Australasia, due to the uniqueness and conservation value of its woodland flora.

“We are very grateful that Spencer ECA is sponsoring our expedition to Tasmania, which is helping to protect endangered tree species and increase the diversity of our extensive collection here at the Garden,” says Huw Davies, Head of Operations and Facilities at the National Botanic Garden of Wales.

Spencer ECA is from its inception a proud supporter of the National Botanic Garden of Wales, and supplies circa 500 tons per annum of G50 grade woodchip which fuels the biomass boilers that heat the world’s largest single-span glasshouse.

The National Botanic Garden of Wales continues to be a major Welsh tourist attraction, with a 45% increase in visitor numbers over the last two years and 94,929 visitors in the first eight months of 2017.

Fast and efficient mat installation keeps pylon replacement on track in Cornwall

Fast and efficient mat installation keeps pylon replacement on track in Cornwall

October 2017

Spencer ECA is one of the most experienced providers and installers of strong, durable and fast-laying temporary roadways, and has vast experience in supplying a wide variety of mats for both heavy plant and equipment movements on large construction sites to pathways for visitors to festivals and shows – including Glastonbury and Wales Rally GB.

Mats are essential for both protecting the land underneath and providing excellent traction for whatever’s travelling on top, and so Spencer ECA recently supplied 500 mats for a delicate electricity pylon replacement project near Hallworthy in Cornwall.

With large cranes required to access a total of eight pylons on farmland, a network of three metre wide temporary roads was constructed, using the versatile, super-strong and interlocking plastic mats. The roads varied from 60 to 240 mats in length, and a detailed site plan enabled the mats to be used efficiently and to be leapfrogged as each pylon was successfully replaced – reducing the number of mats that were required and minimising the amount of time each mat was on the ground; resulting in a clean and undamaged land management strategy.

Spencer ECA’s unique system of laying and removing mats is not just efficient in terms of manpower and resources, it is also three times quicker than traditional methods.

“The installation and re-positioning of temporary mats at the project in Cornwall was a textbook example of how mats can be used efficiently and effectively,” says Spencer ECA’s MD Jamie Jukes. “We dovetailed our land management work to allow the contractor to replace all eight pylons on schedule, ensuring that they too were able to proceed efficiently. And upon completion, the farmer was delighted to see that there were no signs that any work had been carried out on his land – with the exception of eight brand new electricity pylons!”

Spencer ECA has a wide range of mats in stock at its west Wales headquarters and ready for installation. It has also got 2,000 mats in stock and ready for use in Ireland.

Spencer ECA begins ecological migration strategy land clearance project in the South Wales Valleys

Spencer ECA begins ecological migration strategy land clearance project in the South Wales Valleys

September 2017

Spencer ECA is one of the first contractors to begin work on a large Dwr Cymru – Welsh Water N26 Zone Study project in the South Wales Valleys, after being contracted by Lewis Civil Engineering to provide essential land clearance – with protecting the ecosystem at the very heart of its work.

The multi-million pound improvements scheme will see 25kms of aging mains water pipeline replaced, between the water treatment works in Meardy (below the Castell Nos Reservoir) all the way down the valley to Pontypridd. An eight kilometre, 20 metre wide, stretch of trees, shrub species and grassland has to be sympathetically cleared whilst implementing appropriate ecological migration strategies. This means that the Spencer ECA team has to first cut the thick vegetation down to 150mm, using hand-held strimmers. Then reptiles like common lizards and slow worms, amphibians like frogs and toads and mammals like bankfolls will vacate these areas, as it’s no longer suitable to protect them from predators – and instead they’ll instinctively head to the longer, untouched vegetation outside the boundaries of the pipe renewal works. Under the watchful eye of the on-site ecologist, a second cut 24 hours later will very carefully reduce the vegetation down to ground level.

The small trees in the area will be chipped and turned into biomass, which is one of the best sources of renewable energy. And to protect the ecosystem of the nearby stream, Spencer ECA has strategically installed silt fencing to filter surface water run off and ensure no debris goes into the natural water system.

Whilst the entire pipeline project will take three years to complete, the clock is already ticking on this essential and sensitive early land clearance work – as when night time temperatures drop to consistantly below 5°C (around mid-October), many of these little creatures will begin winter hibernation, potentially meaning that they cannot be moved, subsequently delaying the project.

Spencer ECA has also been contracted to erect anti-climb mesh security fencing, which includes 450 metres around the main works site compound.

Tricky removal of four large conifers made easy

Tricky removal of four large conifers made easy

August 2017

Clearing four big conifers demands skill and precision – but when the trees have also grown around a large waste water pipe, which runs to a sewage treatment works, then planning and execution have to be inch perfect.

Faced with this tricky task, JN Bentley contacted Spencer ECA to remove four big conifers from its site in Llanbedr, near Crickhowell. After making a detailed site survey, the trees were sectional felled with the arisings chipped and removed off site for use as a biomass fuel.

To ensure a clean land management finish, we used a stump grinder to bring the stumps down to ground level.

Spencer gets on track with Newtown railway project

Spencer gets on track with Newtown railway project

November 2016

Spencer is pleased to report that it has successfully completed a railway-related project near Newtown in Powys recently. The work involved the clearance of trees and vegetation from an area either side of a section of track that formed part of Newtown’s important by-pass programme – another project where Spencer’s services have been employed.

Spencer proud to be involved with St Davids Lifeboat station project

Spencer proud to be involved with St Davids Lifeboat station project

31st October 2016

Autumn 2016 saw the opening of a brand new lifeboat station for St. Davids RNLI, the £7.6m project featuring a new boathouse and slipway located on the edge of the rocky St Justinians coastline. The new facility replaces the former lifeboat station that has stood at this remote location for more than a century.

Spencer increases Biomass capability

Spencer increases Biomass capability


6th September  2016

South Wales based environmental services company Spencer ECA is pleased to report that it has recently expanded its biomass processing capability – a move that has led to increased activity in the supply of sustainable wood fuel products to local businesses, organisations and private clients.

Spencer restores the flow

Spencer restores the flow

25th April  2016

It’s almost a certainty that, following a storm or significant weather event, Spencer will be called into action to rectify issues caused by strong winds, flash floods or debris damage. One such case occurred earlier this year, when trees and vegetation were blown into the river Cothi, where the swollen and then raging waters carried the debris down stream to the Pontargothi bridge that lies six-miles east of Carmarthen on the A40.