A team from SSEN Transmission’s project team in Inverness recently took time away from their plans, tools and route maps to help local charity ‘Wild things!’ clear away the Giant Hogweed from Waterford Recycling Centre in Forres.
SSEN Transmission is currently upgrading its overhead line between Beauly and Keith and, as with any project this size, an Environmental Appraisal was part of the work that needed to be carried out before the project was undertaken. The specialist team who undertook this assessment noted that one of the towers carrying the line near Forres had signs of Giant Hogweed nearby; not only that, they also noticed the highly invasive non-native species had already been professionally removed, a key factor in stopping the spread of the plant, which can cause serious skin reactions to anyone coming into contact with it.
Dan Thomas, SSEN Transmission’s Environmental Project Manager, takes up the story:
“The Environmental Appraisal is a crucial part of our pre-construction work, as we need to ensure that every aspect of our proposed project can be carried out with the minimum impact on the environment. During associated surveys on the Beauly-Keith project it was identified that Giant Hogweed was in areas near our infrastructure, and specifically around the base of one of the towers. During a preconstruction site visit to the location near the Moray Waste Buster site it was noted the Giant Hogweed in vicinity of the tower appeared to have already have been tackled. We were keen to find out who had been doing it to thank them and see if we could help return the favour.”
After some investigation, Dan was able to establish that ‘Wild things!’, an environmental education charity based in Forres, was to thank. Keen to support them in carrying out this important work, Dan and his team on the project also wanted to see if there was anything they could do to lend a hand with the charity’s efforts to eradicate non-native invasive plant species in the area. It turned out that ‘Wild things!’, in partnership with the local Fishery Trust and Scottish Invasive Species Initiative, had been removing Giant Hogweed on the land around the transmission tower as part of a wider hogweed eradication programme on Moray Council land, often working with local volunteers to eliminate the established Giant Hogweed infestation. This sounded like an ideal way for the SSEN Transmission team to not only support the good work the charity was doing, but it would also help the local environment in the long run.
Dan explains how the day’s volunteering came about:
“At SSEN Transmission we have a scheme called ‘Be the Difference’, which gives every employee a day away from their workplace to help a local charity or good cause, and so when I mentioned I wanted to use my day to help Wild things I was delighted that some of my colleagues also wanted to lend a hand.”
On the day, after a detailed induction session, the SSEN Transmission team was kitted out in specialist protective suits and mask and set to work on the Giant Hogweed that was growing near the Waterford Recycling Centre and the River Findhorn.
Luke Strachan, Chief Executive Officer at ‘Wild things!’ said:
“Giant Hogweed, Himalayan Balsam and Japanese Knotweed are non-native invasive plant species which are spreading rapidly across Scotland and other regions of the UK. These plants have little or no natural competition, crowd out native flora and fauna and prevent communities from enjoying the natural world on their doorstep. Without urgent action, these plants threaten to radically alter the biodiversity of unique Scottish ecosystems. ‘Wild things!’ is therefore grateful to the support volunteers from SSEN Transmission in tackling an issue impacting both our environment as well as our access to and enjoyment of Scotland’s most beautiful and fragile habitats.”
To learn more about SSEN Transmission’s Beauly to Keith upgrade project, please visit:
More information ‘Wild things!’ can be found at: https://wild-things.org.uk
The above photo shows SSEN Transmission staff on the day in their protective clothing (l-r) Michael Forrest, Saffron Cruikshank, Iain Mackintosh, Mike Cowie and Dan Thomas.