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  • Writer's pictureIan

Our Work: South Level Patch Piling; River Cam

Site: South Level Patch Piling; River Cam

Date: January 2018 – March 2018 & February 2019 to May 2019

Value: £400,000


The Rothen Group were asked by JN Bentley and the Environment Agency to assist with the stabilisation of the existing asbestos piles along the River Cam. Over 500m of the asbestos piles had failed and a smart solution was required to stop the banks from collapsing. The project involved:

  • Understanding access restrictions

  • Time & ecological constraints including installing drop piles for water voles

  • Managing the changing river conditions

  • Installing the piles and taking care around the existing asbestos piles

  • Providing safety boat for inspections and facilitating onsite meetings with client and EA

Wide beam digger pontoon with 8t excavator, pusher tug & hopper
Wide beam digger pontoon with 8t excavator, pusher tug & hopper

At site driving the piles
At site driving the piles

Finished piles installed with ‘drop pile’ for watervoles
Finished piles installed with ‘drop pile’ for water voles

The Project

The site, named the South Level Patch Piling, came with a number of logistical challenges that needed to be considered and overcome quickly.

Firstly, due to the rural setting there was no access for land-based plant or equipment, other than at the centrally located compound. This meant that all access for piling and vegetation clearance works had to be undertaken from waterborne plant. There were also strict time constraints that needed to be met for ecological and environmental reasons, due to parts of the project being within a Site of Special Scientific Interest. Despite all of this, The Rothen Group and JN Bentley were able to complete the works in just 4 months.

Ian Rothen, Founder of The Rothen Group commented: “It was obvious from the outset that this was a specialist project requiring a number of innovative solutions to work around the issues presented. Thankfully we have the equipment and experience to ensure that, even without land access, we could reach the hard to access areas, with minimal disruption.

The Rothen Group’s first step was to resolve the site access issues. To do this, The Groups’ wide-beam digger pontoon was specified for the job. The new 26ft wide beam digger pontoon is fitted with a small hydraulic power pack which operates four stability jack legs, allowing the pontoon to hold up to 8 tonnes of machinery, whilst on the water.

A marine ready excavator was then placed on the pontoon, which was used to clear the vegetation and install over 500m of piling to stabilise the river bank. For jobs where access is even narrower, the central section can be removed to reduce the footprint. The pontoon can then still withstand 2.5 tonnes of machinery.

Colin Wilkinson, Contracts Manager at JN Bentley commented: “Having worked on similar projects before, The Rothen Group demonstrated a high level of appreciation for and understanding of the risks involved, while confidently explaining how they would manage these. This comprehensive approach has paid of dividends, with a potentially tricky site being dealt with professionally and promptly throughout the programming and delivery. Expertise from the ecological arm of the business was also an added benefit due to the time sensitive nature of the works being completed and the location on a site of scientific interest.”

Colin continued: “Throughout the duration of the project, standards have been very good – including health and safety protocols. The productivity of the team also met our high expectations and we’ve since received compliments from our client regarding the quality of the works.”

Ian Rothen concluded: “This project at along the River Cam was a great opportunity to put one of our latest innovations, the wide beam digger pontoon, to use. Having worked on the UK waterways for 18 years, we knew there was a need for solution like this one and this perfectly showcases how a lack of land access can be tackled.”

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