Peterhead substation team lends a helping hand at Loch of Strathbeg nature reserve

A team from SSEN Transmission and contractors working on the development of a new electricity substation at Peterhead downed tools to volunteer at the RSPB Scotland nature reserve Loch of Strathbeg for a day.

By Kevin McRoberts
Wednesday, 10th November 2021, 7:00 am
The 11 volunteers worked to help teams at RSPB Loch of Strathbeg. (Photo: Joanna Thow)
The 11 volunteers worked to help teams at RSPB Loch of Strathbeg. (Photo: Joanna Thow)

Eleven volunteers, including staff from the development along with members of environmental consultancy EnviroCentre and Principal Contractor Balfour Beatty, helped spruce up the area ahead of migrating birds returning in the spring.

Loch of Strathbeg is a designated Special Protection Area (SPA) for wildlife conservation purposes and a site of international importance. The site is comprised of a shallow freshwater loch with surrounding wetland, dunes and grassland which is important for a variety of bird and mammal species.

As Britain's largest dune loch, Strathbeg is a vital wintering and staging post for up to a fifth of the world's pink-footed geese. It's also home to a wide variety of wetland wildlife, such as breeding terns and gulls in the spring, migrating waders and wintering wildfowl.

The volunteers helped out with weeding and gravelling on a small man-made island which is a popular breeding ground for common tern, a summer migratory species which visit the coasts of Scotland to breed each year.

Russell Maxwell, SSEN Transmission project manager for the Peterhead substation, said: “Helping at RSPB Loch of Strathbeg was a great opportunity to lend a hand in such an important ecological site in Scotland, and we were delighted to provide assistance and much needed people-power to their teams.

“As guests in the area it is really important that we give something back to the area, so volunteering in this way allows us to help leave a positive impact on the local environment and help these important species found at the reserve to flourish.

“We’re working to protect the environment and promote biodiversity as we progress with our development at Peterhead, and we’ll continue to uphold this at every stage of our project as work continues.”

Edward Grace, Warden for RSPB Scotland, said: “It was fantastic having the volunteers from SSEN Transmission, EnviroCentre and Balfour Beatty out to Loch of Strathbeg. Not only did they work incredibly hard in helping to build homes for our gulls and terns, but it was great to make such positive connections in the local community and show off this wonderful nature reserve. We hope more people will visit the site in spring to see the volunteers’ hard work paying off.”

Joanna Thow, EnviroCentre Senior Environmental Clerk of Works, added: ‘’Members of EnviroCentre’s ecology, ornithology, environmental assessment team as well as our managing director combined forces with representatives from SSE, Balfour Beatty and RSPB to undertake our biggest collective regional volunteering event this week at the RSPB reserve Loch of Strathbeg.

"Collectively, we made a vast improvement to the Common Tern and Black Headed Gull Island which will benefit breeding bird populations next spring.

“It was a fantastic opportunity to work collaboratively together on local conservation initiatives, learn about the work undertaken at the reserve and help with the restoration.’’

The new Peterhead substation is being constructed on the North East coast, and once complete, will form part of SSEN Transmission’s reinforcement of the Eastern network ensuring the continued safe supply of power to the North of Scotland.

On completion, the substation will facilitate the connection of new renewable generation to the grid, supporting the country’s transition to net zero emissions.