And finally… leave it to beaver
Network Rail engineers have constructed what is believed to be Scotland’s first ‘beaver pass’ under the Highland mainline.
The new tunnel has been constructed to help the protected species pass under the railway and to help prevent flooding issues caused by the animals building dams across the railway’s drainage culverts under the line.
As part of the project, an additional 45mm pipe has been inserted through an existing larger culvert drain with wild mesh fitted either side to protect the railway while still allowing the movement of wildlife.
The Tay catchment around Perth has a growing beaver population and is a recent example of an area where their impact was felt on the rail network and a solution was needed to a flooding issue caused when a resident pair of beavers damned a culvert under the track.
A culvert near Gleneagles was blocked by part of a beaver lodge – leading to flooding on an area of land which formed part of a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) designated for wet woodland, scrub and fen meadow habitats.
After obtaining the appropriate licenses to work in the SSSI and working with species specialists at NatureScot, the Network Rail team pumped the water out of the area over a number of days before removing the 2m high 5m wide beaver dam by hand.
When the culvert was clear, the beaver pass was installed and wild mesh fitted at either side of the tunnel, in line with SEPA best practice guidelines for altering culverts, to enable wildlife, including beavers and otters, to pass safely under the railway.