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Energy workers drafted in to tackle invasive plant in Sunderland park

GOING GREEN: Phil Hughes, right, with his Helping Hands Team from EDF Energy alongside Steve Purvis, second right, from Durham Wildlife Trust.

GOING GREEN: Phil Hughes, right, with his Helping Hands Team from EDF Energy alongside Steve Purvis, second right, from Durham Wildlife Trust.

A TEAM swapped desks for a dene as they helped root out a problem plant.

Workers from EDF Energy’s customer service centre, at Doxford Business Park, took time out from their jobs to help remove Himalayan Balsam, which threatened to starve native plants from sunlight at Hawthorn Dene, a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

The event was part of the energy company’s Helping Hands volunteering programme and saw the team spend a full day removing the plant by hand at the site.

Phil Hughes, customer service advisor at EDF Energy, said: “The Helping Hands scheme allows us to assist community projects with the support of the company.

“There are always deserving local projects that the teams at the customer services centre can get involved with, and it not only benefits the community, but gives us an opportunity to do something really rewarding.” The Helping Hands programme allows the 1,800 employees at Doxford to take up to two days paid leave every year to volunteer in the community.

Himalayan Balsam was introduced in the 1800s because of the ability to decorate gardens at a low cost, due to its high and rapid spread, however, its invasiveness soon became apparent to be damaging other species of plants, and in 2010 was recognised as a “prohibited noxious weed”.

Steve Purvis, reserves assistant with Durham Wildlife Trust, said: “EDF Energy has always been a great supporter of the Trust’s work and we’re delighted with the work of the volunteers at Hawthorn Dene. Their efforts will be extremely beneficial to the wildlife at the dene.”

The East Durham dene is the second largest coastal dene in County Durham and features relatively un-spoilt, semi-natural broad-leaved woodland and spacious limestone hay meadows.

 

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