Glendale ensures safe flying conditions at London airport

Green space management specialist, Glendale, cleared vegetation on an embankment at London’s busiest single runway airport.

Glendale’s grounds maintenance team, based at Gatwick Airport, were asked to undertake clearance work on the Juliet Bund at the western end of the airfield.

The Juliet Bund is an ‘L-shaped’ mound of earth approximately 500 metres long and 10 metres high.  The bund is in place as a noise and visual barrier protecting the road and neighbouring properties from aircraft taxiing and taking off from the western end of the runway.

Vegetation, brambles, scrub and small trees were removed from the northern and western sides of the bund to ensure that the area did not become an attractive habitat for nesting birds and, in doing so, reduced the risk of potential bird strikes.

In addition, a number of beacons and warning lights located on top of the bund were becoming obscured by the vegetation, which could affect the operational compliance of the airport.

Jon Eglin, contract manager for Glendale, comments: “The Juliet Bund presented many unique challenges, particularly due to the bunds size, gradient and poor ground condition, which made it unsafe to undertake the work using the equipment we currently have available for other bank work at the airport.

“After extensive site surveys, comprehensive risk assessments and pre-site condition reports, we opted to complete the works with a 23 tonne Komatsu excavator fitted with a 15 metre reach boom and Awhi mulching head.  This specialist piece of kit gave us the capacity to reach and clear 95 percent of the vegetation on the slope.

“However, due to the size of the machine in operation and its proximity to other site users, the project required a Gatwick Airport Notice (GAN) to close the road at the bottom of the bund, and a crane permit as there was a chance that the work could exceed safe height limits.”

This phase of work took five days to complete and was executed in-line with strict guidelines established by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) in relation to airside grass, as well as complying with wildlife hazard management rules.

Jon continues: “Gatwick Airport were very happy with works undertaken and as a result have asked us to undertake the next phase which will involve the clearance of the remaining sides of the bund during winter and early spring.  The second phase will present similar challenges to the first phase with the additional complexity of working in close proximity to manoeuvering aircraft.”


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