Now that the first and main phase of the civil works is complete, Eryl Roberts, Project Manager for the Jones Bros Balfour Beatty Joint Venture spent some time telling us about the team’s experiences onsite over the last two and a bit years.
Can you tell us a little more about your role and the main challenges you face?
My role as the Project Manager for the balance of plant works means that I am responsible for everything under our remit onsite. Our scope of works was to deliver the civil and electrical infrastructure for the wind farm with the main elements being site roads, crane hard standings, turbine foundations and array cabling. Also, as Principal Contractor, we are responsible for the health and safety of all personnel working within the CDM area, which includes all the turbine assembly works and other contractors.
Due to the size, scale and location of the wind farm there have been a number of challenges encountered by the JV over the duration of the project so far. The site seems to have its own micro climate and the wet weather has made the earthwork operations extremely difficult to undertake. We have also had to try hard to have the least impact possible on the environment resulting from surface water run-off. Another major challenge are the logistics involved with such a large construction site. Due to the site being over 10km from one end to the other, our supervisors had to ensure that everything was planned meticulously and that the entire workforce were briefed every morning before they left the main compound for their working area.
Can you tell us a little more about the joint venture and what you have been working on for the last two years?
Pen y Cymoedd Wind Energy Project is the second Joint Venture between Jones Bros and Balfour Beatty. Due to the size and complexity of the project, we felt that two companies would bring more benefit to the project. Thankfully we were successful in the tender process and the JV team have worked well together to ensure the civils phase was delivered safely, on time and to a high standard. For the past two years, we have constructed 80km of site access roads, 76 turbine foundations and associated crane hard standing and laid array cables into 56km of on-site cable trench. We are now into phase two of the works which mainly consist of reinstatement, electrical terminations and turbine assembly.
You have employed a large majority of local people as part of the project. Can you tell us a little more about how you went about this and share some figures with us?
To ensure that the wind farm benefitted the local area, Vattenfall’s contract with us ensured the employment of two thirds of our plant operators from within a 35 mile radius of site. Not only have we met this obligation, we have exceeded this by employing over 70% of the whole workforce from within a 35 mile radius. This equates to approximately 200 new jobs created for the local area by our direct works on site. The number of jobs supported further proves the benefits of the wind farm. The main method of sourcing the new employees was through placement of adverts in local papers and construction newspapers. There was considerable interest and successful candidates were given an immediate start.
How many apprentices were taken on by JBBB as part of the project? Are they still employed given that the project is coming to an end for you?
Prior to starting the construction works, we set a target of six apprentices on the Pen y Cymoedd project. Two years on, we have accommodated 12 apprentices in various fields such as plant operators, engineers and plant fitters. Four of the original apprentices are still on site however due to the experience gained to date they are now classed as experienced operators following successful completion of their apprenticeships. All bar one of the other 8 apprentices are still employed by Jones Bros on other projects throughout the UK. It’s pleasing to see how well they have developed and they all have a bright future ahead of them.