Because of climate change, storms like Storm Eunice are growing more substantial and more common. Therefore, managing vegetation effectively before and after a storm is becoming more critical to keeping communities safe and getting services back up and running.
Vegetation management and infrastructure maintenance are essential to smoothly running our society and economy. Whether it’s maintaining rail lines clear of fallen vegetation from events like Storm Eunice or ensuring the structural integrity of electricity lines, these two factors are vital.
Storm Eunice made this very evident across the United Kingdom as it left a path of destruction in its wake. Storms like Storm Eunice cost a lot of money in terms of damage and represent a serious threat to our communities when they leave behind fallen trees and other types of storm damage.
We can take a host of measures to safeguard the UK’s infrastructure from the high cost of damage caused by fallen trees and debris from events like Storm Eunice. Vegetation management plans require you to carry out inspections thoroughly once a year. Carrying out pre-emptive treatment before storms arrive will help manage any trees or vegetation that could threaten buildings, power lines or railway tracks.
What is vegetation management?
It’s important to know what vegetation management and infrastructure maintenance are and why they are important. Vegetation management controls and removes unwanted vegetation, from weeds and bushes to branches and trees. Such vegetation can damage things like power lines, railways, and more, and it can have a significant impact on communities and the service they receive.
Why is vegetation management important?
Vegetation management is essential because trees and plants can get in the way of overhead electric lines, leading to power outages and unhappy customers. Also, vegetation management is essential for the UK’s infrastructure.
Keeping vegetation in check around places like rail lines, roadsides, industrial sites, and forests is very important for the reliability and safety of systems and the people who live there.
Weeds can cause many problems that aren’t just about how unsightly they look. Invasive weeds can cause structural damage that a storm can then further damage due to instability. It is essential to remove unwanted vegetation from buildings for aesthetic and safety reasons.
Managing the local ecology
Overgrown vegetation can attract wildlife such as rodents, foxes, badgers, and insects. Specific regulations protect the lineside ecology, and qualified vegetation management teams will be fully versed in these and ensure compliance. An ecologist will often work with these teams to assess, plan, and mitigate any risks to existing wildlife if any tree removals are scheduled.
Weeds can spread in the form of harmful plants and plant species that don’t belong there, such as Giant Hogweed, Japanese Knotweed, and Himalayan Balsam. People can get ill from many of these plants, and they can also cause structural damage if they are not carefully managed or removed.
Getting rid of uncontrolled vegetation can make areas safer, particularly when adjacent to railway lines or power lines. Regular assessment and maintenance can help keep trees and vegetation under control, improve safety, and reduce the risk to the infrastructure of incidents such as fallen trees.
Types of Vegetation Management
Our Vegetation Management team and qualified arborists carry out various types of work to keep work areas safe.
Hazardous tree removal
When a tree is unhealthy and can fall on a powerline or rail line, it is termed hazardous. As a result, removing such dangerous trees prevents them from striking electricity wires or falling on the railway lines resulting in power outages or delays.
Tree pruning maintains healthy trees that can grow close to electricity lines and other assets, while hazardous tree removal focuses on unhealthy trees.
The best method to prune a tree is to cut it in a specific direction, called directional pruning. It considers a tree’s structural integrity and its health instead of other methods that can compromise structural integrity.
This method uses pruning to direct branches away from the protected area while also reducing internal decay. Arborists also consider directional pruning a preventative treatment because it reduces the need for future pruning.
Low-lying brush can cause fires and outages in hotter climates when it comes too close to power wires or other electrical infrastructure. Brush removal should still be carried out where necessary in colder climates as it helps in reducing the risk of fires from fallen power lines. The brush can be removed with hand tools and the area treated to prevent regrowth where required.
Brush, debris, and foliage from living trees are generally removed at ground level, as are all flammable objects in the area to mitigate any risks.
Utility Vegetation Management
It’s critical to manage vegetation that overgrows and begins to infringe on Utility Rights of Way (ROW).
A Utility ROW is a registered easement on private land that allows utility companies access to existing utilities or services. Every utility company maintains the rights of way that creates, stores, transports or transmits energy.
Utility vegetation management procedures are used to preserve utility rights-of-way, limit vegetation growth, and reduce the risk of disruptions and dangers to communities and the utility’s operations.
Electric transmission line corridors are kept in good repair to guarantee safe, appropriate clearances between energised conductors and vegetation and access to energy delivery infrastructure for inspection, maintenance, repair, and power restoration in the event of a problem.
Why do utility companies manage vegetation?
When assets include electricity lines that could start a fire or cause an outage due to overgrowth, efficient and prompt asset management is crucial.
Vegetation management is the most significant preventative maintenance expense and often the single largest line item in most power companies’ annual operations and maintenance budgets.
On the other hand, vegetation management is the most important factor in utility system dependability and outage management.
What is infrastructure maintenance?
To understand infrastructure maintenance, we must first learn about infrastructure asset management, a multidisciplinary, integrated set of strategies for maintaining public infrastructure.
The primary purpose of infrastructure asset management is to preserve and extend the service life of long-term infrastructure assets, which are critical to today’s society’s quality of life and economic efficiency.
Infrastructure maintenance is when an asset’s performance is maintained at critical moments during its typical life cycle.
A long-life-cycle asset usually requires several intervention points and can include everything from routine maintenance to comprehensive restoration.
Vegetation Management Minimises Storm Damage
Prevention is better than cure. It is much more expensive to wait for infrastructure to fail than to solve problems before they occur.
Vegetation management removes and controls undesired vegetation, ranging from weeds and bushes to branches and trees. Our teams work across the infrastructure sector with rail, construction, and utility companies to maintain an asset’s performance at critical moments during its typical life cycle. A robust vegetation management plan can help to reduce the impact of storm damage.
Members of the Arboriculture Association
RSS Infrastructure is an Arboriculture Association approved utility contractor. We have been vetted and approved by the leading authorities and have achieved the highest standards possible to gain their approval. Our Vegetation Management division can assist your business in several ways.
If you would like to discuss your vegetation management needs, speak to Graham Talbot, Head of Arboriculture, on 0330 113 0004 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.