Guardbridge Energy Centre, University of St Andrews

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Fiona Ranson-Sasaki

Head of Marketing

+44 (0)1291 623801


The Guardbridge Energy site has a long history of industrial use. First founded in 1855, the site has been converted from a distillery to a papermill and has more recently been acquired by the University of St Andrews. The principal objective of the project was to develop an energy centre as part of the University’s strategic drive to become the UK’s first energy carbon neutral university.

Following an initial scope of the area by contractors, Vital Energi, it was established that the old concrete bridge was not sufficient enough to carry heavy loads and needed to be refurbished. However, after further assessment, Vital Energi realised that refurbishing the bridge would be expensive, and it was impossible to guarantee the amount of work required to achieve the required loading and fatigue specifications. It was decided that a replacement bridge would be the best option, but it needed to be a solution that was sustainable and caused minimal impact on the local environment due to the importance of protecting the river area.

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The original concrete bridge was no longer suitable for carrying the 40 tonne vehicles that would need to access the energy centre. Mabey was able to offer an alternative solution to the concrete bridge and was able to ensure that it would withstand the immediate requirements of the construction project to provide temporary access, as well as the more long-term application for a permanent bridge solution.

A 55 metre long one lane Mabey Compact 200™ was selected as the best option for the project. The bridge was constructed within two weeks by five people, however, there were some challenges. The original location of the bridge (on top of the concrete bridge) had to be changed at the last minute because of potential access difficulties faced by vehicles turning onto the bridge; once the new location had been selected a new Scottish Protection Agency approval was required. Additionally, during the installation of the bridge, there had to be no disturbance to the Motray Waters. Therefore, a cantilever launch was chosen as the best option for the project.

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The 55 metre long Mabey Compact 200™ was successfully installed and has been handed over from Vital Energi to the University of St Andrews. The new biomass plant was officially commissioned on 6th December 2016 and the Mabey bridge continues to provide vital access to the plant.

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