Natural Resources Wales (NRW) is about to begin the next phase of a major project to harvest unstable trees growing above a section of a trunk road in mid-Wales.
The Bont Evans Tree Works and Stabilisation project, or BETWS, was set up by NRW to protect people by removing huge trees growing on a steep bank above the A487, north of Machynlleth.
Next week, contractors will begin to install a 900 metre long catch fence along the bottom edge of the woodland.
Temporary traffic lights will be on the road, near Ceinws, for around three months while the fence is put in place.
Jared Gethin, BETWS Project Manager for Natural Resources Wales, said:
“These trees have become unstable and the risk that they could fall onto the road and cause an accident is increasing.
“And this also a complex project because the trees are growing on a steep bank, which is up to 50 degrees in some places, and right above the busy main road.
“The catch fence needs to be in place before felling can start, to stop debris falling on the road from the bank above.
“We hope to have the fence in place in the spring, but the timings will vary depending on how the work progresses.”
NRW’s contractor, Dawnus, will stop work and remove the lights over the weekend to reduce disruption to the community and other road users.
Only when the fence is in place can they will start felling approximately 22 hectares of trees – roughly the size of 30 football pitches.
Safely removing the larger trees, which are twice the size of Machynlleth town clock and weigh up to 12 tonnes, is high risk and more traffic management will need to be in place.
This will include stopping traffic in both directions for up to ten minutes at a time when a tree is being felled and removed.
People are invited to a drop in session on 1 March from 14.00-19.00 at the Corris Institute, to learn more about the project and meet the team involved.
Jared continued, “We are committed to working with people and businesses in the area to reduce the impact of our work wherever possible, but our priority is to keep everyone safe.
“We are also committed to reducing the impact of our work on wildlife. We’ve started this already by clearing some trees and vegetation over the winter, and we will promote the best working practices through the whole project.”
The trees are part of the Tan y Coed woodland managed by NRW, and they are mostly Douglas Fir, Western Hemlock and Sitka Spruce.
The Bryn Llwyd running trail and a nearby public footpath have been closed for safety reasons.
Tan-y-Coed car park and other walking and running trails are open for people to enjoy.
NRW and Dawnus are working closely with the North and Mid Wales Trunk Road Agency, Welsh Government Transport, and the emergency services to reduce the impact on the community and road users as much as possible.
People can find information about the project at NaturalResources.Wales/BETWS, or get in touch with NRW at BETWS@cyfoethnaturiolcymru.gov.uk.