RWE npower recently donated 80 tonnes of Pulverised Fuel Ash (PFA) from its Didcot A Power Station to the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust to create the approaches to a bridge as part of the waterway restoration project. Then, seven volunteers from the company's Generation Aggregates department donned wellies and hard hats and shovelled the ash to build the slopes up to the rebuilt arch bridge, connecting the bridleway over the canal at Steppingstone Lane in Bourton,Oxfordshire. The power station supplied the ash via RWE Power International, which manages all sales of ash from RWE npower.
David Catley, group head of Generation Aggregates within RWE npower and team leader for the volunteering project, said the group gained more than just aching muscles from the day, as he explains: "It was great to be involved in the restoration as the canal has been derelict for nearly a century; it was once an important link in the national waterways network and will, again, provide wildlife habitats, cycle ways and routes for walkers along the towpath and, eventually, the fully restored canal for narrowboats."
The Trust approached Didcot A after discovering that ash is often used as engineering fill material and, due to its properties, would be a sustainable alternative to primary aggregates such as clay. Ash has been used on various major engineering projects from RWE npower's stations including the M4 at Mereoak, Ridgmont by-pass and Celtic Manor. John Rainford, Didcot A Power Station Manager, says: "This is an extremely beneficial project. The canal runs very close to the power station and we are delighted to support the local community in returning the canal to public use."
Re-using ash in projects such as this is an environmentally-friendly and sustainable destination for it. Martin Buckland, the Director and Chairman of the Abingdon branch of the Trust, says: "The involvement of RWE npower in this project has been extremely successful; we are set to complete this final stage of the project in the very near future."