February 2021

Diffuse Pollution – Looking Back

Since last Autumn, we have highlighted each month the challenges of managing diffuse pollution on our operational sites.

  • We have looked at different stages of management from good site planning to putting sufficient control measures on the ground, and of course to monitoring the site and nearby watercourse as the work progresses and weather changes.

We are covering in our bulletins the key messages within our recently launched diffuse pollution training for plant and machinery operators working on our sites.

Reflecting on what has gone before

Diffuse pollution training isn’t a new initiative for Tilhill. We have been delivering it over the past 10 years to both staff and our contractors. We have worked closely with other environmental regulators on these training courses and also in partnership with SEPA, delivering this onsite training to many managers and operatives across the UK.

We have also held events to help train staff from SEPA, NatureScot (previously SNH) and Scottish Water which were well received and helped ensure better understanding of the forestry industry within the regulatory bodies.

Tilhill’s in-house Forest Ecologist John Gallacher has been instrumental in the development of our approach to training. John has worked in the forestry industry for the past 21 years and has significant expertise in managing the risk of diffuse pollution.

He was involved in developing the Forestry and Water Scotland Know the Rules booklet, working closely with SEPA, Scottish Government, Forestry and Land Scotland, and Scottish Forestry. This booklet aimed at the forestry industry provides guidance on controlling the risks of diffuse pollution from operations such as woodland management, felling, forwarding, spraying and forest road construction. Tilhill managers should carry copies of this booklet and you can also access these on our Contractor’s Portal as well as the Confor website: https://http://www.confor.org.uk/resources/forestry-water-scotland

Since publication we have actively promoted the use of the “Know the Rules” booklet and wanted to take this one step further within Tilhill by developing e-learning training. Our goal has been to make this accessible to all our operators on site and ensure we capture new starters to the industry, whether that is a forwarder driver or excavator operator.

Diffuse pollution training into 2021

Diffuse pollution is an increasingly challenging issue on site as we experience more often ‘unseasonal’ and ‘exceptional’ weather with the driest months ever more regularly being recorded followed by dramatic rainfall with widespread flooding.

The new e-learning videos mean we can make sure all machine operators have confirmed an awareness of the issues before starting work in our managed forests and woodlands.

We hope the message in the videos is simple and clear:

  • We all have a role to play from Forest Works Managers to each and every operator on site.
  • Planning for diffuse pollution must be robust.
  • We must safeguard against heavy rainfall or snow melt.
  • We must check pollution controls are in place on sites at start of work, that they are checked and maintained as work progresses and draws to completion.
  • That we remember to STOP, THINK AND ACT to prevent diffuse pollution.