November 5, 2021
Back in May of 2015, our Celtic Englobe division and Wales & West Utilities (WWU) successfully completed the remediation of a large section of the former gasworks in Briton Ferry, Wales in the UK. Upon completion of the extensive project, the massive brownfield site was returned to a condition to allow it to be used for future activities by WWU or brought to the market for future beneficial use.
To this day, the project is still considered to have been an example of how to engage a small community and its stakeholders in order to complete a complex project and ensure minimal disruption, while fostering open and transparent communication among all parties.
The challenge faced by the Celtic team was clear: 2.16 hectares of contaminated former gasworks land including two below-ground gasholder bases and associated contents, a booster house and ancillary pipework, a large slow worm population and a dense area of Japanese Knotweed needed to be remediated in such a way as to bring the site forward from a state of neglect to a site that could be used by WWU initially, and that was of far greater visual appeal to its surrounding residential neighbours.
In order to achieve the objective and significant work requirements, a comprehensive engagement strategy was developed by the project team and was embedded across all project team disciplines (PR, regulator consultation, remedial design, programme development and delivery) creating a holistic approach to brownfield redevelopment as well as promoting an honest and open approach to public participation.
Public consultations focused on informing and educating the local community and its members on the works and aspirations for the site. Community feedback and suggestions were a vital part of the remediation design process and, where possible, were incorporated into the design and final plans for the site.
During the project, the team established and maintained a trusting and informative relationship with community representatives including the local authority and Natural Resources Wales, the Mayor of Briton Ferry and the nearby primary school. These relationships proved essential and provided reassurance during times of inevitable disruption due to the scale and location of the works.
As a direct result of the community interaction and feedback gained during the project, the site operated above its original design and monitoring regime and at a level considered to represent best practice within the industry and traditional brownfield remediation projects. This was considered to be a significant achievement and demonstrated the emphasis paid to public and other stakeholder groups’ feedback. The team believed that this approach helped to ensure the work was completed in a sympathetic manner, carried out smoothly and within the project programme, taking into account ecological constraints while providing the most robust and effective remediation possible. The community interaction was also vital in ensuring a good working relationship between the site team and the residential properties that surrounded the site on each side, and resulted in no complaints being received throughout the works – a major achievement given the scale of works, remediation requirements and site access restrictions.