Protecting our Water

We’re becoming used to heavy downpours and unseasonal weather with reports at the end of last month of flooding in North Yorkshire together with hailstones the size of small sweets.

  • With all our experience and training together with the increase in this type of incident we should by now be experts at planning for adverse weather on site and be clear on the responsibilities for checking control measures and their effectiveness.

Unfortunately, over the past couple of months, we have had a number of reports of diffuse pollution incidents both potential and actual. Often good planning is seen in the paperwork on the sites where these incidents have happened. Control measures are also identified to manage the risk of diffuse pollution but regular checks that control measures remain in place, and remain sufficient, are not always  being  carried out. We must make sure that controls are regularly checked, this will mean checking watercourses aren’t being affected as work progresses on site and taking regular breaks to walk down to the watercourse and confirm water is clear.

We can’t afford to be complacent:

  • Planning for diffuse pollution must be robust
  • Measures on site must include safeguarding against unseasonal heavy rainfall

And most importantly:

  • Check pollution controls are in place on sites at start of work
  • Check that they are maintained as work progresses
  • Regularly check streams and watercourses (receptors) that are adjacent to the site to be sure that the control measures are working

We must do what we say we do

Check what your responsibilities are on site for regular inspections of watercourses and other receptors with the Forest Works Manager.

We all have a role to play.

Forest Works Managers:

  • Assess the risk
  • Install preventive measure before work starts
  • Plan for emergency response, for example, getting an excavator to site to help redirect flow in unexpected circumstances
  • Ensure controls are maintained on site
  • Brief risks and requirements to contractors and their operatives
  • Be reactive to change and monitor the site and maintenance of controls regularly

Where operators change on site the Forest Works Manager must ensure arrangements are in place to brief incoming operators of the site risks, requirements and controls.

Contractors and their operatives

  • Be aware of the basic rules required to protect water
  • Ensure they are briefed on site
  • Maintain controls on site as work
  • Check silt traps, maintain brash mats and deflect water where


  • STOP WORK and alert the Forest Works Manager if you notice water becoming discoloured
  • STOP WORK and speak to the Forest Works Manager if you need support or help
  • Extra care and attention must be taken when harvesting on older sites with old drain networks