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HEAVY plant and workmen swarming all over the seafront are never pleasant for local residents, so the designers of the sea defence scheme at Minehead worked hard to keep disruption to a minimum.

All work affecting the seafront was stopped over the school holidays to limit the impact on local businesses, which depend on holidaymakers.

A further measure has to do with the way in which the rock and fill material is brought onto site. Rather than clog the streets with lorries, all the rock is brought in by rail on the West Somerset Railway, which is usually used for steam-powered tourist excursions.

The stone is brought from Foster Yeoman's Torr quarry and ARC's huge Whatley quarry, near Frome, Somerset, by the ARC/Foster Yeoman joint venture, Mendip Rail. The trainloads travel on the main line to Norton Fitz-warren Junction at Taunton before switching to the West Somerset line, which has not carried freight for some 30 years.

The first part of Tarmac's contract was installing an additional siding to accommodate the rolling stock. The rock is delivered in the evening; Tarmac unloads it during the day using a 30-tonne excavator with a rock grab. Deliveries by rail have been at the rate of one train - or 500 tonnes - each day.