Hello, my name is Georgina Smith and I’m the environmental advisor for Skanska at Worthy Down.
The Defence Infrastructure Organisation is working on a £300 million project which will deliver the new Defence College of Logistics, Policing and Administration (DCLPA) at Worthy Down. Skanska – DIO’s industry partner on the project – is the principal contractor. We’re the construction company working on the redevelopment of the base.
Through the construction of a new and improved campus, Worthy Down will be transformed from a training facility for Army personnel in non-combat roles to a tri-services facility for the Army, Navy and Royal Air Force.
The new campus is being completed in three stages. We are in the process of finishing and handing over the first stage now. As part of our works, we are building accommodation – housing and single living – teaching buildings, a social hub, spaces for working out and even a museum. As a climber myself, I am personally very envious of the new rock climbing wall going into the gym!
An important part of our work at Worthy Down is environmental management and enhancement. We know it’s something that the DIO and those on the base also hold dear.
Relocating and reusing
With Worthy Down’s rural location, one of the environmental challenges the team has faced is finding wildlife within the construction works. At the beginning, we discovered a thriving population of over 80 smooth newts and around 30 frogs that were happily living in the water obstacle on the assault course we were due to remove.
A new home was built in the form of a specially made pond and a team was put together to rescue, by hand, each and every creature from the water obstacle and move them to a new home.
After the newts, the wildlife we came across was mainly of the winged variety. We have had blackbirds, robins, rooks, wood pigeons, doves, tawny owls and little owls. The campus is surrounded by trees, but the nesting birds loved the security and shelter provided by our scaffolding, cable trays and window ledges! The award for most unusual nesting location went to the blackbird family that decided to nest in the engine hatch (excuse the pun) of a massive machine our ground workers had brought to site.
Each nest was protected by an exclusion zone and regularly checked by qualified professionals. If there was any doubt about whether a nest was abandoned or the chicks had fledged, we set up a camera to film the nests for several days so we could be completely sure before removing it.
As well as accommodating unexpected guests, we have been enhancing the number of homes on site for wildlife. Alongside nest boxes, we are creating invertebrate habitats. Invertebrates love dead and decaying wood, so any trees that have to be removed to make way for the new buildings or need to come down because they are in decline get cut up and put in piles around site. Unfortunately, we discovered that campus personnel also love pre-chopped wood for heating their homes, so the invertebrates have some competition!
We are also working to improve the environmental performance of the buildings on site. One way we achieve this is by crushing waste material from the demolition of the old buildings and using it in our construction work. In total, 11,800m3 of waste material has been crushed and reused for creating building platforms, crane and piling mats, haul roads, forming the slabs and backfilling services.
Three buildings now have photovoltaic panels on the roofs, which will produce 325,917kWh/yr of electricity annually. The amount generated on the main college building alone will save the base approximately £50,000 per year, as well as saving the planet’s resources.
This has been a very exciting project for me so far and I’m really looking forward to seeing what environmental challenges the second phase of construction work will bring.