The renovation of 30 full size pitches at Chelsea's 152-acre training facility at Cobham in Surrey has been recently completed by White Horse Contractors with a notable environmental significance.
The pitches used daily by the Premiership club's first team - 60,000 square metres in all - were Koro'd, replenished with over 1000 tonnes of Fibresand concentrate, then re-seeded in a very tight pre-season timescale by the company based at Abingdon in Oxfordshire. All pitches are replicas of the club's Stamford Bridge surface and the polypropylene fibre reinforced silica sand fed into the root zone adds stability to a surface created from a Rigby Taylor R14 seed mix.
Other remaining pitches at the Cobham complex, used by the club's Academy and outside third parties, were sprayed-off, cultivated and laser re-graded. All of the work there started in June and was conducted in two phases.
However, it was neither the time pressure nor the scale of the work that sets this project apart: it was the concerted effort by both the club and contractor to minimize waste and vehicle movements.
White Horse Contractors, which handles a wide variety of natural turf and artificial pitch work countrywide, constructed the first team pitches at Cobham back in 2005 and since then further pitches for the Academy and a 10,000 cubic metre synthetically lined reservoir to help irrigate them. Over this period, with Chelsea's wholehearted approval and encouragement, they have developed an operational strategy for all renovation work that ensures no material is transported from the site. The resulting reduction in vehicle movements, retention of valuable void space in landfills, minimising waste, and lowering the need for fertiliser are all practical 'green' benefits.
White Horse's commitment to environmental care has been recognised this year by the awarding of full ISO 14001 accreditation from BMTrada and from Chelsea's point of view it is a means of working that also helps cut the on-going cost of maintaining its training complex.
"The club has always aspired to minimise its environmental impact and at Cobham, we want the facility to complement the beauty of the surrounding countryside," said head groundsman Jason Griffin who took charge at Stamford Bridge and at the training complex back in 2003.
"The pitches there actually get more wear and tear than the stadium surface because there's much more play on them day in day out. It's therefore especially important that both renovation and regular upkeep is top drawer, and that what we do ticks all the environmental boxes.
"The work White Horse Contractors have done for us at Cobham is both intensive in nature and extensive in scale, but everything is kept on site. It means there is no disruption to the local landscape and our neighbours are not inconvenienced. These things matter a lot to the club."
Pre-season, White Horse Contractors also handled the complete renovation of Chelsea's Stamford Bridge ground. Koro work, topping up with Fibresand, re-levelling, cultivating and seeding were all completed in just five days.
"All the plant used for work at Cobham and at Stamford Bridge is our own, including three LGP trailers we bought specifically for the Cobham project to work alongside our Blec Combinators, the Koro equivalent, " said White Horse Contractors Managing Director Stephen Greene.
"The quality of the work we do is a result of the skill and attention to detail of our staff, plus our commitment to investing in specialist equipment. No matter how good a new or renovated pitch is you still need highly skilled groundsmen to maintain it. We think that at Cobham and the Bridge, Jason's team and White Horse Contractors show just what can be achieved, and without compromising the environment."
For further information, please contact White Horse Contractors on 01865 736 272 visit www.whitehorsecontractors.co.uk