Risks are assessed throughout, right from moment clients confirm their requirement. They are asked to send us an accurately marked out and annotated map depicting bracken location and extent, i.e. bracken target area (BTA), water courses, springs, and wells lying in or within 150 metres of BTA (with an indicator showing those used to supply water for human consumption and the extraction points), footpaths and/or common/open access land lying within 100 metres of BTA etc.
Water supplies can be a major issue. If you are considering bracken control please read our important Water Issues page which has additional information appertaining to public and private drinking water.
Information gleaned from the client’s map allows us to partially complete one of our Risk Assessment Sheets which is then sent to the client for checking and additional information. Once returned to us the Risk Assessment Sheet and the client’s map contain sufficient environmental and safety information for the basis of our application to the Chemicals Regulation Directorate on the client’s behalf.
The next stage in our safety protocol is a site visit during which our Survey Officer meets with the client at his property and a full Risk Assessment is carried out of both the BTA and the proposed helicopter landing site. Aeronautical, environmental, and public safety issues are all considered at this point.
Aeronautical issues may include such items as proximity to the landing site or BTA of overhead wires or other obstructions, sensitive areas such as schools/prisons, horses (particularly brood mares), etc.
Environmental issues may include proximity of SSSIs, issues with National Parks, water courses etc.. Note:- where a water course lies below an area of bracken growing on loose friable soil associated with a heather moor, soil erosion could be a problem, therefore a generous buffer zone should be allowed, possibly even 100 metres depending upon steepness. If the land is old mountain pasture that has been invaded by bracken, then soil erosion will not be a problem.
Public safety issues are assessed including neighbours (i.e. residences within 70 metres). Although the law says such people only need informing if they live within 25 metres, it is M D Air Services policy to see that they are informed at up to 70 metres. Account is also taken of possible bystanders and standard signage will be displayed on footpaths, bridleways etc., also any land having common access.
Crew safety issues are also assessed. Consideration of the aeronautical aspects ensures pilot’s safety and in addition the landing site is assessed for ground crew safety. The ground needs to be level and firm capable of accepting the vehicles and equipment, and as importantly, the route to it is fit for purpose and hazard free.
Issues raised during the Risk Assessment may require us to inform or consult with a National Park, NRW, or Natural England, local prisons, nuclear establishments etc. Other safety and environmental issues are addressed during the notifications/consultations that are carried out at set time scales prior to the spray operation (these include bee keepers, police and environmental health departments)
Copies of completed signed Risk Assessment Sheets, together with annotated maps, form the basis of the crew briefing prior to each spraying operation.