Safety is key at Pen y Cymoedd

With work now well underway at Vattenfall’s Pen y Cymoedd wind energy project, ffwd caught up with Mick Walls, ABB Site Manager, substation and grid connection.
ffwd – what does the project involve?

MW – ABB is the main contractor for the grid connection of a 228 MW onshore wind farm that will be the largest in England and Wales. Together with Balfour Beatty we are building two high voltage substations and the underground cable connection between them.
ffwd – what are your responsibilities as Site Manager?
MW – I am responsible for the planning and organization of work on site to ensure that everything progresses according to programme. We can have upwards of 40 people working on site and one of my key roles is providing an effective interface between all the various contractors. And most importantly, I have to maintain the very highest levels of health and safety.
ffwd – can you tell us about the health and safety initiatives?
MW – We believe that safe working in everything we do is the key to effective progress on this project. To show just how important it is, I have a full-time health and safety advisor, Harry Shaw. I am very pleased to say that all our suppliers and contractors have bought-in to the idea that the site must set the very highest standards for safety. This covers many different aspects such as the total use of complete PPE (personal protective equipment) and thorough induction briefings for everyone on site, ‘toolbox talks’ – short briefing sessions that cover a specific safety issue, use of plant segregation and barriers, right through to effective planning, coordination and reporting to ensure that every risk is anticipated and minimised.
This attention to detail is really paying off. In fact, during a recent safety audit by Vattenfall the auditors recorded a score they regard as ‘amazing’ – among the highest for any site worldwide.
ffwd – how do you work with the local supply chain?
MW – ABB’s commitment to working with local suppliers was a key element in winning this contract. And living up to this contractual obligation is one of my key tasks. So we use local companies where at all possible, and especially for vital support services such as cleaning, waste disposal and security. For some services we have had to cast our net a little wider, even so all our contractors are located within a 30 mile radius.
ffwd – how are you engaging with the local community?
MW – Our aim is to minimize disruption and inconvenience for the local community. So for example a great deal of thought and planning went into managing traffic flows when carrying out cabling works along the main roads.
The site is also a popular local amenity, used by walkers and cyclists. So we are doing everything we can to maintain access – with of course no compromise on safety. In fact, we even managed to have the site available for use by 4,500 cyclists attending the Dragon race in early June.
ffwd – What are the main project highlights so far?
MW – The main highlight is the routing of the high voltage underground cable that will connect the two substations. This has seen around 950 metres of ducting installed on the A4061 route with a further 850 metres installed on the Hirwaun industrial estate.
Three km of ducting has also been installed in the Forestry region.
The compound for the Rhygos substation is now established, and the compound for the Pen y Cymoedd substation up on the hillside will follow shortly.

Construction at Pen Y Cymoedd is well underway

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