Last week we used a helicopter to transport intake materials and the 12 metre pipes along the route of the Snowdon Hydro. Whilst working with the team I took the opportunity to speak to some of the many hikers going up the Watkin Path and to answer their questions and gauge opinion of the work we’re doing.
The one reoccurring question was why use a helicopter and not just bring the materials up the access track? We had this similar conversation ourselves within the team prior to booking the helicopter. I thought it was worth a blog post to explain our reasoning. In no particular order the following factors were taken into consideration:
The helicopter reduces the number of movements on the access track and reduces the wear and tear on the track by heavy lifting vehicles. Our aim is to develop an exemplar hydro where our impact on the landscape is minimal. We calculated that over 100 return trips by heavy vehicles have been saved by using the helicopter.
Our access track has one very steep, sharp corner. The contractor’s risk assessment highlighted that this would be a potentially dangerous corner for transporting a +400kg 12 metre pipe around. There were 15 pipes to take around this corner and the helicopter mitigated this risk by avoiding the track.
Had we not used the helicopter then specialist tracked vehicles would have to be leased by the contractor. The cost of these vehicles would have been a similar figure to the helicopter cost. Value for money is an important factor in all areas for the National Trust and when combined with the other factors listed here we felt the helicopter was the correct decision.
We had the helicopter at the farm for two and half days and it worked for a day and half. On the second day we were hit by high winds and therefore had a day where no lifting took place. The alternative method for the contractor using heavy lifting vehicles would have been around two weeks of work and would have taken key personnel from their team for longer periods.