Raingardens and City Frogs - It turns out we have lots of both in Inverness!

The first ever Sustainable Drainage (SuDS) Conference in the Highlands has been a great success. The Conference was held at the Highland Council Chambers on Friday (27 November) with over 60 people attending from The Highland Council, Scottish Natural Heritage, Moray Council and Aberdeenshire Council, as well as individuals involved in the local community and development.

The aim of the event was to improve communication about the use of SuDS or Raingardens and ensure they are reaching their full potential to provide multiple benefits for people and wildlife. Speakers included Dr Brian D’Arcy “the grandfather of SuDS” an independent consultant who has been instrumental in the implementation of these systems in the UK and Alison Duffy from Abertay University who works on projects to assess the whole life cost of these systems. They discussed the potential for SuDS to provide amenity space for local people, improve the health of local people, encourage more wildlife within our cities and increase the quality of our water. All at a lower cost than conventional drainage systems.

The day was rounded off with presentations about the work being carried out in Inverness and Tayside to support biodiversity and in particular amphibian populations. Catherine Lloyd from Tayside Biodiversity Partnership demonstrated the impacts of gully pots on amphibians when migrating to urban ponds. Thousands of amphibians are killed every year when attempting to cross roads to breeding ponds but now we know that thousands more are being trapped and killed in roadside drains when they fall into the gullypot and cannot escape. The animals then either drown or starve to death. The award winning “Amphibians in Drains” project is now installing amphibian ladders in gullypots beside ponds to ensure amphibians can get out.

The Highland Council’s Graduate research assistant Marcia Rae presented the results of this year’s SuDS project which identified 40 sites within the city of Inverness, 75% of which were being utilised by amphibians. The project built on previous work carried out between 2010 and 2014 by David O’Brien to establish the wildlife value of these sites in Inverness. This year’s results show that not only are amphibians utilising the sites but a range of other wildlife too. Water quality testing demonstrated that the ponds are of good quality and in some cases very healthy. Nitrates and phosphates were found in the water, which is to be expected in an urban environment, but were not at high enough levels to be affecting amphibian populations. Nearly half of the ponds surveyed in Inverness are in excellent condition and the remainder could be brought up to this level with minimal intervention. Starting to do this is the next stage for Marcia’s project.

Marcia Rae said of the day: “This has been a great opportunity for everyone with an interest in sustainable drainage and all of the benefits these systems can provide to get together and share ideas and experiences.”

For more information about the Conference or the Inverness SuDS project contact Marcia Rae at marcia.rae@highland.gov.uk or telephone 07753352400.

1 Dec 2015
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