Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) has installed a series of special ladders to protect the local amphibian community at its Mybster Substation, which is being extended as part of the Caithness-Moray project.

The innovative solution was introduced following a series of ‘frog rescues’ at the substation. SSEN Environmental Project Manager, Francis Williams, explains more:

“Before commencing our refurbishment works at Mybster, we conducted environmental surveys on site and at that point there were no frogs or toads recorded. However, the installation of a new drainage system and pond at the site attracted a substantial number of frogs and toads leading to our team carrying out a regular number of frog and toad rescues from cable trenches and gully pots.

“We wanted to find a sustainable solution that would prevent this from happening so contacted a local wildlife expert to come up with a solution.”

Trevor Rose, Secretary of the British Herpetological Society, designed and installed specialist ladders in the gully pots to allow the creatures to escape and fitted a solid plastic ‘reptile’ fence around the pond. Trevor said:

“This is a great initiative by SSEN. Common frogs and toads are considered widespread species and not actually protected by law except against collection for sale and trade. However, we have seen declines in local amphibian populations all over the country and numbers have fallen massively, mostly attributed to hazards created by man, such as habitat loss, urbanisation, changes in modern day farming, road salting, road kill and gullypot entrapment to name a few.

“This contribution by SSEN to safeguard amphibians at Mybster is highly commendable and a great example to industry which we hope will highlight the problem of amphibian entrapment for others to follow suit.”

The frog ladders are the latest in a series of wildlife friendly features introduced at Mybster by SSEN with wildflower seeding, hibernaculum creation and native broadleaf tree planting being incorporated to enhance local biodiversity to date.

Suzanne Mackay, SSEN Project Manager at Mybster, said:

“Within SSEN we take our responsibility for the environment very seriously and as part of this large-scale development have promoted wildlife initiatives wherever possible.

“The number of frogs on site was far more than anticipated and the whole site got behind the frog ladders and barriers to make it a success. We will continue to monitor them during site activities this year.”

Work has been underway at Mybster Substation, located east of the A9 on the Causeymire, since 2015 and is required as part of SSEN’s Caithness-Moray project.

The Caithness-Moray project is at the heart of the biggest renewal of the north of Scotland’s electricity network in a generation and includes reinforcement of the onshore transmission network in Caithness between Dounreay and Mybster and between Loch Buidhe and Beauly.

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