SUTTON BANK VEGETATION MANAGEMENT
Those that already know us recognise that we’re no stranger to adventure in both our business and family lives.
We love to explore new territories. Renowned to the locals we love as the trusted ‘go to’ fencing firm (much to our 35 year family legacy), our gangs must have travelled tens of thousands of miles in the past month alone.
How far into the woods?
Beneath the escarpment of one of the richest, most monumental historic of features in the North York Moors National Park lays a pine plantation (PAWS) on this very ancient woodland site.
Although to be fair, even if you were cycling past with the dogs, there’s not a cat in hell’s chance you’d of seen it because the whole crop was pretty much smothered in gorse as coarse as a boars beard, bail size amounts of bracken & brutal 3-6 foot high bramble entwined in some of the most erogenous and peculiar of ways with the prickliest plants known to man.
It was clear that much of this pine tree crop was on the verge of suffocation, like a saloon of seabass slurping sand in a salt barrel. Tree species clumped together like a series of fully hemmed, steel welded, sideways eaten, ham hock pies. Ok, may be a touch too far, but you get the gist.
These firs were on their last forest forage unless we gave them the breathing space they urgently desired. So after another site inspection whilst liaising with the Forestry Manager at Tilhill we got all emergency response cards / PoWRA (Point of Work Risk Assessment) paperwork dusted, (PPE fully FISA 203 compliant) and decided to spring into action and to these precious pine tree some well deserved fresh air, because every living thing needs more room to grow.
Hence, late November, amidst moist, misty conditions and sub zero temperatures, our new outfit, the ‘Metcalfe Land Services Team’, took to the trail, spill kits at the ready, freshly brushed for our brand new challenge in woodland management and some severe bramble beating. Armed with some brand new Stihl 460 brushcutters and marsh munching mulching blades, our team were set to preserve, protect, and well, pummel to a pulp (but not strictly in that order).
Ever tried towing a caravan up Sutton Bank?
Not something anyone would typically advise. In fact best not – it’s prohibited. There’s enough signs on the A170 (Unless of course you’re crazy enough to ignore all the warning and re-enact some yocal Yorkshire version of the Italian job finale, but each to their own). This said, it’s to no surprise that the ascent to Sutton Bank is notoriously steep, which is why our team of qualified LANTRA accredited brushcutters had to pay extra special attention to ‘FISA 705 Steep Slope Working’ ensuring exclusion zones were clearly marked and noted and that appropriate signage was present to mark out boundaries for the public. Our team worked in a logical and coordinated way to tackle the steep 3.5 hectares of embankment like a chain gang of high speed motorised mountain goats grazing in regimented unison. Calves & Blades of steel! Due to the type of terrain it was essential that all team members were kitted out with solid boots to meet the standards with a firm support and grip. Due to HAVS regulations, we had to organise and plan cycles of working for the operatives and coordinate sufficient breaks so as not to over expose anyone past the daily vibration limit,
Our AMS inspection requirement to preserve the pine tree plantation was to strim all the competing vegetation between crop trees – the silver birch was rife amongst these. The tree were planted in matrix style grid spaced every 2m.
It’s fantastic to work in such open panoramic surroundings; so close to nature in a coniferous and distinctive Area of Natural Beauty. We enjoyed our time in the White Horses’ wilderness, happy with the result and were pleased to see the way the sun set on this job in such a stunning way.