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Stay Safe, Keep Clear

Wed 28 March 2018

SSE and the Scottish Canoe Association want to help you stay safe by keeping clear of all man-made structures found at our hydro schemes.

At SSE, we’ve been generating and distributing energy to homes across the north of Scotland for 75 years. The North of Scotland Hydro Electric Act saw over 54 hydro power stations built between 1943 and 1965 and these magnificent feats of engineering still stand across Scotland today.

These power stations, and others, are part of the Scottish landscape and attract tourists and locals alike. However, these impressive landmarks come with their own often hidden dangers.

Although they may look tempting to paddle in, there are particular hazards associated with the water environment and the man-made structures found at our hydro schemes. In order to stay safe, you need to keep clear of all man-made structures and take precautions against the dangers of entering the water.

Paddlers in a range of craft often enjoy the waters near our hydro sites, however our plants are operational assets, providing renewable energy for homes across the UK. The water levels in the vicinity of these sites can change very quickly and without warning.  The best way to stay safe is to keep clear of any hydro structures.

Due to the layout of rivers and lochs there can be dangerous undercurrents which could cause a kayak or canoe to capsize. The force of this water can be very powerful and could result in your kayak or canoe being drawn into the flow, this could cause you to injure yourself or drown.

The aqueducts at our hydro sites can also cause very quick changes to the water levels and flows, so please keep your distance.  These sudden changes in water level and turbulent currents have the potential to cause those who may be in the vicinity to be submerged. 

Dave Rossetter of Scottish Canoe Association said: “As a member of the Scottish Canoe Association I know how much paddlers love to get out on the water now spring has hit, but the most important thing before setting off on any adventure is to be sure you know the risks, evaluate them and then put measures in to avoid them.

“These hydro stations are very impressive but there are a number of unique and hidden dangers so, for your own safety, stay safe and keep clear.”

Gareth Richards, Wholesale SHE Manager at SSE, said: “At SSE we’re proud that our hydro stations have become such landmarks across Scotland, but it’s so important to understand the risks of taking to the water in the vicinity of these sites.

“We are not stopping people from accessing the water near these schemes, but we encourage everyone doing so to be responsible, to understand and assess the risks and take the necessary steps to enjoy the water in a safe way. The best way to stay safe is to keep clear.”

The advice from the Scottish Canoe Association when you are going paddling is to ensure you are well prepared and equipped and to have planned how you will react should the weather or water level change or some other unexpected event take place. As well as taking a suitably waterproofed, fully charged mobile phone with you, it is best to let someone else know your plans including when you are due back, as you cannot rely on being able to get a good mobile phone signal.

Common hidden dangers should be fully understood and assessed before any water borne activity is undertaken.  Please remember that you are responsible for your own actions and safety and this includes the people you are responsible for including children. Remember; stay safe, keep clear.