National park authority tackling contractor shortage for conservation work

The Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) is increasing its efforts to restore peatland within its boundaries, but is facing an obstacle of a lack of contractors for the job.

By
Mark Dowie
Saturday, 13th November 2021, 12:00pm
National park authority tackling contractor shortage for conservation work
CNPA is working with four companies on its entrant programme.

CNPA Peatland ACTION Officers have overseen more than 2000 hectares of peatland restoration since 2014, but these efforts need to be scaled up to address the nature and climate crisis and contribute to the Scottish Government net zero carbon emissions targets set for 2045.

In April 2021, the authority is now able to directly award funding for the projects but such work, especially in challenging upland locations and on sites with complex erosion, requires skilled contractors who can work safely and deliver the best outcomes.

Contracting companies may be put off from taking them on for various reasons, including the expense of purchasing or adapting machines or adapting machines for working on deep peat, harsh conditions, uncertainty regarding likelihood of future work or difficulty recruiting the right team.

The CNPA is digging deep into how to make work contracts more attractive, including a plan to award multi-year funding packages, providing confidence for contractors and continuity in work.

Over the next three years alone it intends to award £10 million in funding awards for peatland restoration, supporting a host of green and rural jobs within the projects and many more in the wider supply chain.

CNPA Peatland ACTION is also running new entrant programmes to help train up local civil and plant businesses, which are diversifying into peatland restoration, with the aim of enable more companies to become skilled in delivering drain blocking work using the latest techniques.

CNPA Peatland ACTION Project Officer, Daisy Whytock, said: "We have two ‘new entrants’ sites operational at the moment and are working with four companies in total.

"It’s exciting to see the enthusiasm the machine operators bring to the job, and how quickly they can master the drain blocking techniques.

"All going well, we hope to see each of the new entrants tendering for bigger projects and eventually tackling eroding sites."

Further information about the restoration programme can be found at cairngorms.co.uk.

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