The last thing you expect to find in the Channel Tunnel

The construction of the Channel Tunnel was a huge project in many respects. It would stretch across 50km under the sea. It would provide a vital connection between the UK and mainland Europe. It would be a cross-industry, multi-business effort. And, at the edge of the Thames, the tunnel’s preparatory work would uncover the remains of an early Stone Age elephant: the palaeoloxodon antiquus, which came in at double the size of today’s biggest African elephants.

With respect to our project, the Channel Tunnel effort would be equally enormous. With gas mains and sludge pipelines criss-crossing the tunnel’s future route, we needed to clear a path for construction to begin. A big path. In fact, our advance utility works would cover a 23km stretch of land between Purfleet and Barking.

But gas mains and pipelines weren’t the only obstacle. At the same time, we’d also need to reroute pipelines for land owned by motor company Ford, as well as protecting Rainham Marshes; a scientific interest site owned by the RSPB. Our work would even intersect the Tilbury to Southend railway line at three different points.

Together, we worked with stakeholders and with the railway authorities to make sure we considered every angle. We pulled on all kinds of experts within our business too, using specialist methods like pipejacking and microtunneling to ensure minimal disruption above us - for both wildlife and train timetables.

We take pride in what we do, and the final result here is no exception. From moving of gas mains and sludge mains to dismantling, relocating and rebuilding above-ground installations, we did it all with our trademark care and attention for the community, for affected businesses, and for the environment around us. Stone Age elephants included, naturally.

Woman with pickaxe