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Reactor Pressure Vessel sailing into Combwich Wharf

Combwich Wharf in action

Posted April 24, 2024

Over-sized and very heavy pieces of equipment are moved from storage to Hinkley Point C when they are needed. This involves planning and logistics – using Combwich Wharf to bring in the equipment by sea.

The Hinkley Point C Freight and Marine team plans the movement of these abnormal indivisible loads (AILs) from the port of Avonmouth down the Bristol Channel to Combwich Wharf, before organising the five-mile journey by road.  

Important deliveries

Claire Warner Blackman

Claire Warner-Blackman, Planning Delivery Lead, is one member of the team. She said: “Our role consists of liaising with suppliers and project managers at Hinkley Point C to understand delivery needs. This is critical so that we’re ready to receive equipment. Due to the size and weight of the items, we will need to organise cranes and specialist equipment to off-load them from the vessel.

“The weather can affect delivery dates if the vessel can’t sail or the cranes can't operate. Our first priority is ensuring the safety and security of both the operations and equipment during the shipments. Offloading smoothly from the vessel requires technical engineering and highly skilled operatives.”

Using the wharf brings sustainability benefits to the area, as it reduces the number of journeys required on local roads. Claire estimates that the facility will handle more than 300 journeys which would otherwise cause traffic disruption.

Being good neighbours

As a local resident herself, Claire is aware of the importance of sharing updates with the community: “I’ve received a lot of interest and support in what we do,” she said. “Clear, open communication is key as well as ensuring our local community are kept up to date ahead of time. We’ve also put plans in place to ensure minimal disruption – for instance, we aim to transport equipment over weekends when less people are using this route.”


Combwich Wharf – in numbers:

  • 24 tidal windows available this year, in accordance with the Development Consent Order (DCO), which means 43 opportunities to deliver equipment by barge in 2024
  • 28 pieces of equipment delivered via Combwich Wharf in 2023
  • 60 items of equipment delivered via Combwich Wharf planned in 2024
  • 11m-wide HXA tanks are the widest equipment delivered to the wharf
  • 52m-long Polar Crane beams are the longest equipment delivered to the wharf
  • 560-tonne Steam generators will be the heaviest pieces of equipment handled by the wharf.

From then to now

  • 1959: Even though there has been evidence of a wharf at Combwich dating back to Roman times, the site was upgraded in preparation for the build of Hinkley Point A Power Station.
  • 2017: Hinkley Point C signed a contract to begin work at the Combwich freight management facility.
  • 2019: Combwich Wharf was refurbished to bring in large deliveries by sea more efficiently, and the first delivery of permanent equipment for Hinkley Point C arrived via this facility in the form of four diesel fuel tanks.
  • 2022: The berth bed was revamped to allow the barge to conduct roll-on, roll-off deliveries – making the process of delivering and receiving equipment safer and more secure.
  • 2024: In May, the AIL team will be overseeing the delivery of the project’s four steam generators.

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