Estates unite for clean up operation

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In a two day “Operation Cleanup – Ballater” seventy gamekeepers, foresters and other estate staff removed tonnes of debris from the River Dee.

The aim of the operation was to help prepare Ballater for the 2016 tourist season.

Estate and agency staff in the South Grampian Wildfire Group and the Grampian Moorland Group combined, forming operational teams with a mixture of equipment and staff.

The operation took two weeks to plan and organise.

Heavy machinery and manpower were deployed at various sites on the Dee.

These areas were cleared of items such as heavy metal caravan bases and aluminium caravan sides.

A final sweep for smaller items is being made by volunteers this weekend.

Hans Mckenzie-Wilson, Head Gamekeeper at Invercauld Estate said: “The local community has done a great job so far but no one can do everything and, it needed the combination of skilled workers with heavy lifting equipment in a concentrated effort to shift it.”

Michael Bruce from Glen Tanar Estate and Chairman of the group said: “It was clear the level of effort and type of equipment needed to clean it up had to increase massively.

“We have been able to adapt the procedures we use to tackle wildfires to help support this two day clean-up operation.

Geva Blackett, Councillor for Aboyne, Upper Deeside and Donside, was on hand to witness the effort.

She said: “Gamekeepers have kept the countryside beautiful around here for generations and I am delighted, if not surprised, to see them taking part.

“I’d like to say a big thanks to them and the wildfire group, as local councillor.”