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Highland kayakers and paddlers urged to stay safe as SSE Renewables and Scottish Canoe Association remind people of dangers around hydro sites in Ross-shire and further afield

By John Davidson

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Paddlers are being warned about manmade structures when they head onto the water.
Paddlers are being warned about manmade structures when they head onto the water.

KAYAKERS and canoeists are being urged to get back on the water with caution and to keep clear of man-made structures at hydro power sites.

The Scottish Canoe Association and SSE Renewables have got together to issue the warning as travel restrictions are eased from today across the Highlands and beyond.

They say that paddlers must keep clear of all man-made structures found at hydro sites, risk assess your route and know what to do in the event of an emergency on the water.

SSE Renewables warns that its hydro stations are often in very rural locations with minimum phone signal, so people should make sure someone knows where they plan to be and where they are expected to end up.

Signage at these sites is there to help ensure people are aware of any dangers or protocols that need to be undertaken to stay safe, it says, and urges people to adhere to any signs near these sites.

Stuart Smith, Scottish Canoe Association’s CEO, said: “I know how much paddlers want to get out on the water now some of the lockdown restrictions have been lifted. The most important thing before setting off is to be sure you know the risks, evaluate them and then put measures in place to avoid them.

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

Paddlers are also being reminded that physical distancing and other hygiene measures are still in place and the current Scottish Government guidance should be adhered to at all times.

The SCA has updated its phase two guidance on its website at canoescotland.org, where there is also more information about staying safe around hydro sites.

Andy Hay, hydro operations manager at SSE Renewables, said: “We understand how keen people are to get back out into the countryside, but we would encourage everyone, alongside adhering to the latest government guidance, to ensure that when they are near our sites, whether on land or on water, that they are doing so responsibly; that they understand and assess the risks to their safety and take the necessary steps to enjoy these sites in a safe way.”

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