United Utilities airlift woodland to Lake District fells

The helicopter in action
Image caption More than 1,000 bundles of materials have been airlifted

A new woodland made up of 58,000 saplings and 28 miles (46km) of fencing has been airlifted on to the Lake District fells.

A helicopter has flown them to Mardale Common, Swindale, Whelpside and Helvellyn Screes in Cumbria.

United Utilities said the 740 acre scheme would slow down the run-off of rain water.

The company hopes that will prevent erosion, improve water quality and lower the cost of water treatment.

A spokesman said the scheme was aimed at improving the quality of water in the streams and rivers which feed the Haweswater and Thirlmere reservoirs.

Between them, the reservoirs supply more than a third of all the drinking water in the North West.

'Long-term benefits'

Project officer Vicky Bowman said the company will be "planting trees up the gills and on steep vulnerable slopes to create scrub woodland in order to reduce erosion and create a source of seeds for future vegetation to establish".

She added that the scheme "will eventually lead to a healthier, more natural and bio-diverse landscape".

Image caption The trees were stored at a "base camp" at Wet Sleddale Reservoir near Shap

The planting of the woodland follows the firm's establishment of almost 1000 acres of native woodland and scrub on Bampton and St John's Common two years ago.

The RSPB, which holds tenancies of two farms at Haweswater, welcomed the tree-planting initiative and will be planting an additional 5,000 trees at Swindale Farm.

Lee Schofield, site manager at Haweswater, said the woodland will have "long-term benefits" and provide habitat for red squirrels and woodland birds such as pied flycatchers and redstarts.

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