Rhododendron Control

by Andy on October 14, 2014

Encroaching upon the loch!

Encroaching upon the loch!

Rhododendron Ponticum, a pretty (to some) yet pesky invasive species trying to conquer our green and pleasant land. Introduced to the UK back in the 18th century this hardy plant has gone on to dominate large areas of the Scottish landscape, and throughout the rest of the UK. When in bloom the flower can be a huge tourist draw, but unless action is taken to keep the plant in check, areas of natural beauty will be overrun destroying the native flora.

The well known method of treatment is the spraying of herbicides, while very effective in what it does, it is likely to kill off all the native plant life we want to see flourish. Stem injection is a more targeted approach to the use of herbicide, providing the maturity of the plant bears a thick enough stem for injection. Cutting the plant down is the obvious choice for some people, but without removing the root ball and all other bud-bearing material you’re really just wasting your time. The plant will regrow and you’ll be back to where you started within a few years.

A technique devised by The lever and Mulch Partnership®, and recently taught to and used by ourselves, greatly reduces the likelihood of regrowth through the killing of all bud-bearing material with little impact on the surrounding environment.

For more information on this or any invasive weed management contact us on 0800 0209 307 or e-mail us on info@soilutions.co.uk.

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Why Do We Need Renewable Energy?

by Alasdair on September 24, 2014

Well someone's got to keep the lights on @ Haundreis

We’ve got to keep the lights on somehow @ Haundreis

The recent controversy over the change in stance of Friends of the Earth on Nuclear power or not has got us thinking about energy again.

For most of us the questions around renewable energy can be separated into two broad areas, the things that impact our lives on a day to day basis and the longer term and perhaps slightly more difficult to define goals of national and global energy policies.

Lets be blunt about this, wanting to reduce carbon emissions to combat climate change is something which most of us can get on board with but on a day to day basis the things which affect our lives are; do the lights go on?  Is my house warm enough? And what does this cost me?

In this sense maybe renewables aren’t that great.  Green levies which are put on to everyone’s energy bills to subsidise the expansion of renewable energy infrastructure increase the cost of domestic energy and consumers may not be getting a good deal out of this.

And the environmental argument isn’t quite as straight forward as you might think.  Hydroelectric is great as part of a mixture of generation techniques but its not a solution on its own but the environmental impacts can be huge and there are limited number of suitable sites.  Wind turbines must be sensitively sited and often require a fair bit of concrete to build the foundations.  Concrete is quite a CO2 heavy building material and an average of 300m3 per turbine is not unreasonable.  If they’re sited in a peat bog as many in the UK are then the excavation of peat will release CO2 as well.  The construction of these facilities is not without more immediate environmental impacts due to the risks of fuel spillages etc (our area or interest) inherent with building things in environmentally sensitive locations.  However, over the lifespan of the wind turbine it will release much less CO2 per KWH of electricity than other forms of power generation.   Similarly the production of solar panels is energy intensive which involves a carbon footprint and large scale projects can have a large visual impact.  As EDF say their technology is low carbon, not zero carbon emissions.  But the sun shines every day (it might not seem like it but it does) so why not try to capture this energy?

And other forms of energy generation are not without their complications.  Nuclear energy is haunted by the spectres of past disasters and is also not as low carbon as is often claimed.  There’s an awful lot of concrete in a nuclear power station and the mining and processing of the fuel is quite an energy intensive process not to mention the issues around high level waste disposal.

Fossil fuels, even modern cleaner plants emit CO2 and have the associated drilling and mining impacts.  As for novel sources of combustible fuels such as biomass fuel plants a recent government report shows that while a good idea in principle the reality is more complicated and relies on a transparent and accountable supply chain.  Anerobic digesters and energy from waste systems are great and should be utilised more widely but they do still emit CO2.  Then there’s new sources of fossil gas but lets not open that Fracking can of worms.  However these methods do produce reliable electricity at a defined cost and can often be sited (relatively) close to poplulation centers thus reducing the transmission losses of generating electricity from a large number of widely distibuted sites which affects many renewable schemes.

So it’s not as clear a picture as you might think, it seems that for every pro there’s some cons so why do we need renewable energy?  Well, on balance while it’s a very complex issue the pros mostly outweigh the cons and the one thing which answers those questions at the start of the post is a simple one, energy security.  If you want a reliable supply of energy at a defined cost over the long term you require a diverse range of energy generation techniques which are not reliant upon imports or the whims of foreign governments.   It makes sense to consider all the options but some things are clear, the UK is a small island sitting off the north west coast of europe so we are in a favourable location for wind and wave generation and we have the technological expertise to exploit these and other novel forms of energy generation.  We have finite resources of fossil fuels and we’re reliant upon imports for pretty much every other source of energy.  When viewed with that in mind renewables are not a ruse by the electricity generators to drive up bills in the name of a green agenda they are a pragmatic route to keeping the lights on.

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3 Ways to Stop an Oil Leak

August 14, 2014

Guess you’re in a rush so I’ll cut to the chase.  This applies to domestic and commercial leaks, and most of it is common sense. The first thing for you to think about, “is it safe”? If there is a fire risk, or for example the vapours are overwhelming, then stay safe, keep clear and call [...]

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Landfill Tax a Point of View

August 11, 2014

It is a universal truth that your personal circumstances will influence how you view the world.  This can be any aspect of life your age, gender, ethinic and religious background, where you live or the job you do.  These factors and many more will inform on the reasons for you having a very different view on [...]

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Waste Acceptance Criteria – Are you classifying your waste correctly…?

August 5, 2014

  As you will all know it is the waste producer’s responsibility for describing their waste in detail and that WAC is not the way to do this…!  What you need to do is provide details on the source and origin of the waste, including chemical test data.  The EA have produced guidance on how [...]

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Groundwater Remediation

July 18, 2014

When dealing with groundwater remediation as with most things in life there are various options. Do you want to treat in situ? Do you want to extract the water and dispose off site? Or extract and treat on site? Choosing the right treatment technique can require a lot of site investigation and data collection to decide [...]

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What is Land Remediation?

July 10, 2014

There are a lot of remedies out there, and more and more people using Remediation as a term specific to their field. Land remediation and its most dedicated employee the Remediation Engineer are both in the business of resolving (or remedying) problems caused by contamination in soil and water. Whether contamination poses a risk depends on the scenario, safe levels [...]

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Environmentally speaking, Ignorance is not bliss

July 7, 2014

As with many things in life we are always searching for the quick fix. Unfortunately when dealing with contamination one doesn’t really exist. Gone are the days of being able to sweep problems under the rug. Many of today’s remediation jobs are a result of the ‘leave it to someone else’ attitude, along with more [...]

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FIFA and the environment

July 2, 2014

With much of the world swept up in football/soccer fever enjoying this huge sporting spectacular. We do forget the environmental impact of holding such an event. FIFA are planning to implement projects to offset the environmental impact of the World Cup such as solar paneling and the replanting of trees, but of the reported billions [...]

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Giant Hogweed or Cow Parsnip?

July 1, 2014

How do I tell the difference between the two? This can ultimately be a bit of a head-scratcher, the less green fingered amongst us may struggle. From afar both plants look incredibly similar……tall, thick stems, large leaves, white flowers…..but the differences are there if you know what to look for. If you do happen upon [...]

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