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Aylesford Newsprint Demolition Project

09 May 2019

Aylesford Newsprint fell into administration in February 2015, following negotiations with the administrators (KPMG). In September that year, W&S reached an agreement to purchase all paper, machinery and equipment on the 100-acre site, whilst also carrying out the demolition of the 40+ buildings/structures. The site needed to be demolished to ground level.

Being such a large and lengthy demolition project, we were required to notify the HSE of the project in order to comply with the Construction Design & Management Regulation 2015 (CDM).

We became the Principal Contractors on site which meant we took full responsibility for the day to day operations of the site, including all Health and Safety matters. As we were responsible for all aspects of the project, there were times during the dismantling phase that up to 150 contractors were needed on site at one time – this was no problem for the W&S team, we were able to meet such requirements with ease.

The finer details of a large-scale project

The Aylesford Newsprint site was bordered by the River Medway, public footpaths and Network Rail, which meant that special considerations were a must to ensure that each area was dealt with according to the relevant regulations of different authorities. Bat boxes were installed as it was found during the ecologist investigations that bats were using one of the older buildings that would be taken down. They were placed in position designated by the ecologist in shrub land close to the River Medway, which ensured they had alternative places to roost.

Once approval for the demolition to progress was granted in April 2017 and with safety at the forefront of the team’s mind, isolation of all services to the buildings was put in place before the strip out of the buildings and any demolition works could begin.

Removal of equipment & dismantling the building

The initial focus of the W&S team was an attempt to sell the larger equipment on site for re-use rather than for scrap, in a bid to remain environmentally friendly. We engaged a world-renowned paper machine specialist, John Wilkie, to assist us in this process.

This strategy worked well as the main paper machine PM14 was exported to China. This machine alone took over 6 months and 100’s of contractors to dismantle and remove. The process was to remove all the parts, pack and transport to China, which required absolute precision. The PM14 is now operational and producing paper again. Various other items of apparatus were sold for reuse in India, Turkey, France and Egypt.

To put the size of this project in some context, the 2 paper machines on site were each the length of a football pitch.

Once we sold all that we could for re-use, we then began carrying out the demolition of the buildings on site; this was a major project on its own which took nearly 12 months to complete. The demolition of the building involved our expert team who utilised the specialist high reach equipment purchased by W&S to enable an effective, timely demolition. We managed to recycle the majority of the demolition waste, which mainly consisted of blocks, brick, concrete, metals and roof tiling.

One machine was kept busy for three months breaking up and clearing the arisings from the eleven concrete tanks located at the Water & Effluent plant. These tanks were 30m approximately in diameter, which meant that our machine operator had to be very so as not to impact on the adjacent railway or river whilst taking them down.

The most time-consuming aspect was the demolition of the 23 metre Meri-Tower building, which was constructed of heavily reinforced concrete. Large drum pulpers were used to screen out any unwanted items like paperclips and staples in the stock making progress. These pulpers were sold internationally for re-use with the end destination being Egypt.

Following the demolition of the smaller buildings, the W&S was left with the larger buildings/structures onsite to deal with.

The PM14 paper machine house, at 375,000m3, was the largest building onsite. Its concrete and reinforced structure supported a large PM14 paper machine and the external walls were cladded with insulation boards. These were carefully removed and sent for reuse in Romania. Once the demolition started it took around four months to complete.

W+S Waste Management Ltd completed this CDM demolition project from start to finish in less than 18 months with the land being handed back to the satisfied client on 12th February 2019.

Geoff Thompson, CEO of W&S Waste Management, comments “Everyone involved in this project worked extremely hard to ensure that the demolition was safely completed. W&S have invested heavily in specialist high reach equipment and look forward to receiving enquiries for our next project no matter where or what size”


We are an experienced team of recycling and demolition specialists based in Dorset and Oxfordshire, with expertise in all areas of recycling, demolition and waste disposal ranging from cardboard recycling and End of Life Vehicle Collection, to trade waste disposal and metal recycling. For more information about our recycling services, or for further advice on how you can make a difference at home, contact our team on 01202 675564 today.

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