Frequently asked questions
We are currently planning a project called ‘Bont Evans Tree Works and Stabilisation’, or BETWS for short. This has been set up to safely remove an area of unstable trees and stabilise the hillside along the A487 trunk road near Ceinws, to the north of Machynlleth
About the project
Why are you doing this?
The trees are growing on a steep hillside and they are becoming increasingly unstable and could fall on to the road. This could cause an accident or unplanned road closure. If a tree does fall this could also lead to rock, soil and other debris falling on to the road.
How have the trees become unstable?
This is due to their age, height, weight, condition, growth patterns, exposure to high winds, and steepness of the site.
How big is the area of you are planning to fell?
The whole area we are planning to fell amounts to approximately 22 hectares – this is about 30 football pitches. The total volume of timber is in the region of 15,000m3 which is around 12,000 tonnes.
When will the work be starting and how long will it take?
We started working at the site in October 2017 and expect the work to take around 18 months to complete.
What type of trees are you felling?
They are mainly Douglas Fir and Western Hemlock, with Sitka Spruce, Norway Spruce, Cryptomeria and a small amount of mixed deciduous species.
What will happen if you don’t remove the trees?
The risk of trees falling onto the road is increasing each year, if we don’t remove the trees they could fall and cause an unplanned road closure and potentially a major accident.
Can’t you stabilise the bank without cutting the trees down?
The hillside itself is not thought to be unstable, unless falling trees disturb the ground underneath. It is also not practical to undertake stabilisation work with the trees in place. The trees would still remain at risk of falling on to the road, therefore the only sensible way to address the risk is to fell the trees.
Will removing the trees make the ground more unstable?
Removing the trees could make the ground more unstable in the short-term, until vegetation has re-established sufficiently. Once we have felled the trees we will improve drainage and remove loose material to minimise the risk of a landslide. We will also monitor the site following felling to identify risks and undertake further stabilisation work if necessary.
How much will this project cost?
The project is expected to cost around £3m.
The impact of our work on people, road users and wildlife
Will travel along the road be affected?
The location of the A487 immediately below the trees means that some of the work we are planning will have an impact on those who use the road.
We will need to place traffic lights on the road for some of the work, and when we are felling the trees on the steep bank we will need to stop traffic in both directions for up to 10 minutes at a time. Operators will be present at roadside with STOP/GO boards to control the traffic flow.
How often will you need to stop traffic in both directions?
We can’t say exactly but we will need to do this each time we complete a high-risk activity - this could be a couple of times every hour but it will probably vary each day.
Will the trails in Dyfi forest be closed?
Unfortunately, yes. The Bryn Llwyd running trail in Tan y Coed woodland has been closed, and it will not reopen until we’ve finished working in the area.
Other trails in Tan y Coed may also be closed or diverted as the project progresses, this will be clearly signposted on site and advertised here.
We will also need to close the public right of way that runs through the site from the A487 near Evans Bridge.
Will the Tan y Coed carpark remain open?
The Tan y Coed carpark will not be affected by the work and will remain open throughout.
Will your work disturb the wildlife in the area?
We will be improving the environment in the medium to long-term, by returning the majority of the coupe back to native broadleaf woodland.
There will be some negative impact the short-term but we will comply with relevant guidelines and industry best practise to minimise the impact.
How will you reduce the impact on wildlife?
Extensive bird and wildlife surveys have been carried out prior to the project commencing, and a watching conservation brief is ongoing during the works. No active raptor nests were identified in the surveys that were carried out, and much of the area to be felled has dense shade from the conifers and so is generally poor wildlife habitat.
We have also done some tree and vegetation clearance in the area over winter, under the supervision of our conservation specialists. Doing this preparation outside of the active dormouse season will help to reduce the impact of our work on protected species, birds and other wildlife in the area.
Temporarily clearing habitat at the right time of year is an appropriate method of deterring use during the BETWS works and these areas will recover, and provide more and better wildlife habitat in the future.
How we plan to carry out the work
How will you be felling the trees?
This is a complex site so a number of different felling and timber extraction methods will be used.
On flatter ground a ‘harvester’ machine will be used to fell and process the trees. We will then use a ‘forwarder’ machine to take the timber to stacking areas ready for haulage.
On steeper sections trees will be felled using a chainsaw and then ‘skidded’ to a suitable location for processing and forwarding.
On the very steep slopes the trees will be felled using a chainsaw and extracted using a modified ‘skyline’ machine.
What is a skyline?
A skyline is a cableway system that uses a fixed cable between two points. We propose to use an excavator as one and a ‘spar tree’ as the second. A motorised carriageway then runs along the cableway and the felled trees are attached to the carriageway using steel wires. The trees are then dragged up the hill to a landing platform. From there the trees will be processed and stacked.
Who will be doing the work?
We carried out a stringent tender process and appointed Dawnus as the contractor to carry out the work.
Dawnus are an engineering led company with a proven track record for safely delivering complex schemes on behalf of Natural Resources Wales, including the ongoing Roath Park Flood Alleviation Scheme in Cardiff.
What will happen to the trees once they have been felled?
The majority of felled timber will be hauled to local sawmills where it will be processed and used for various agricultural and construction applications.
This provides an opportunity to recover some of the economic value of the timber which can be reinvested into the Welsh Government’s Woodland Estate.
What kind of safety measures will be put in place when the trees are being felled?
The temporary forms of traffic management mentioned above will be put in place to ensure the safety of road users.
The Public Right of Way and affected forest trails will be closed or diverted to minimise the risk of the public entering the working area.
We are also installing a ‘catch fence’ along the bottom edge of the woodland to stop debris falling onto the road when we’re working above.
Will the catch fence be removed once the trees have been felled?
The catch fence will remain in place for two years after felling has been completed to allow the embankment to re-establish itself. Throughout this period the catchfence and roadside slope will be subject to frequent structural and geotechnical inspections.
Will you be replanting the trees?
Because the area is a Plantation on Ancient Woodland Site (PAWS) we will generally be allowing natural regeneration (with management to ensure suitable species), or replanting with native broadleaf trees such as birch, oak, rowan, hawthorn, holly and hazel.
Won’t planting more trees just create a similar problem in the future?
The site will be managed to ensure that tall trees do not establish above the road in the future. Taller trees such as oak will only be allowed to establish where they are not at risk of falling onto the road.
Keeping people up to date about the project
How have you told people about the project?
We provided information sheets to those living in the area and wrote to businesses we believe may be affected. We have also held public drop in sessions and promoted the work on social media.
Will you continue to update people about the work?
Yes. We will provide updates when we have new information. You can send us your email address or house address and we can add you to our distribution list.
Is there information online?
Yes. We have created the BETWS web pages which will be kept up to date with the latest news. We will also be providing information via our @NatResWales twitter account.
How can I contact the project team about the work?
If you have any queries or concerns you can contact us directly via email firstname.lastname@example.org or call our general enquiries line on 0300 065 3000.