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In conversation with Sean Williamson

By Sean Williamson on 25th March, 2024

Sean Williamson is the owner of local contracting firm, Williamson Groundworks,…

Restoring peatland will be essential in helping the Cairngorms become the UK’s first net zero national park. We talked to local contractor, Sean Williamson of Williamson Groundworks in Grantown, to find out how he became involved in peatland restoration projects.

Sean Williamson with groundworks machinery

Why is it important for local contractors to get involved in peatland restoration?

I am pleased the opportunities are there for local contractors to train and tool up for this type of work rather than bringing in contractors from other parts of the country. Peatland restoration is all about helping to slow and reverse the effects of the climate crisis and so it makes sense to train local people rather than have workers and machinery travelling up to the Cairngorms, which would obviously have a considerable carbon footprint.

What are some of the peatland projects you’ve worked on so far?

Our first peatland restoration project involved delivering some novel technique trials in Glenfeshie in 2022. Following that we worked with the Park Authority under the New Entrant Scheme (which gives existing contractors the skills needed to deliver peatland work) on a project at Glenmuick in autumn last year. That was followed by a complex project on Allargue Estate. We will also be delivering a Park Authority-funded peatland project with RSPB Scotland at Abernethy over the coming months.

What impacts do you hope peatland restoration projects will have in the National Park?

Restoring damaged peatland obviously has significant benefits to the environment, but I think what is important on top of that is the jobs that will be created locally. There are going to be more opportunities for this type of work in the coming years and that will provide new work opportunities for people in our communities. These projects could also play a part in helping the growth of local businesses – it’s great that contractors in the Cairngorms are being given the opportunity to diversify the services they offer and upskill their team. All this will have a positive impact on our economy in the Cairngorms National Park.

Over the five years of Cairngorms 2030, we plan to restore 3,500 hectares of the National Park’s peatland, trapping thousands of tonnes of carbon.

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