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Spider lift enables ash dieback work at ruined medieval castle


Date 24 | 01 | 2023

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Spider boom ‘vital' to clear diseased trees laying siege to castle

Tree surgeons have become kings of the castle after taking delivery from Access Platform Sales of a Hinowa Lightlift 17.75 Performance IIIS spider platform.

That's because their first project for the exceptional tracked boom lift has been to clear diseased ash trees from around a Welsh medieval castle.

Without it, key elements of the project would have been impossible to carry out, said Tom Morris, Director of Morris's Grounds Maintenance of Rhadyr, near Usk, in Monmouthshire.

"The Hinowa Lightlift 17.75 is a brilliant machine," he explained. "Without it, some of our work on this project would've been impossible to do. We'd scheduled 15 days to complete it. With the Hinowa, we're looking to finish it in eight. The Hinowa makes that big a difference."

Jonathan Wiseman, Regional Sales Manager at APS, which is the UK and Ireland Distributor for Hinowa products, said: "It's fabulous to hear the Hinowa Lightlift 17.75 has had an immediate positive impact on the challenging work being done by Tom's operatives.

"Because of the debilitating effect of ash dieback on infected trees, similar teams up and down the country are quickly finding working from Hinowa platforms is the only solution to a pernicious environmental problem."

Tom Morris's tree surgeons were tasked with removing up to 40 mature ash trees, some more than 80 feet tall, which had been infected and fatally weakened by ash dieback.

This left the trees so unstable they urgently had to be taken down to prevent them from falling onto the remains of Tregrug Castle, located three miles from Usk, and damaging its structure.

Some of the trees could be felled conventionally. Others were so close to walls, or enclosed by the castle structure, that they had to be reduced branch by branch and the trunk removed in sections.

The castle has rectangular walls 160m by 78m, making it the largest single enclosure castle in England and Wales. It was built in the 14thCentury to replace an earlier Norman castle, and used primarily as a grand country retreat and hunting lodge by the de Clare family, who also had a castle in nearby Usk.

Many of the trees removed had been clustered around the remains of the imposing Lord's Tower, which would have been tallest structure when the castle was first built.

The tree clearance project has been made possible by funding from Cadw, the Welsh Government agency charged with protecting sites and structures of historical interest.

The diseased trees were so weak it was unsafe to use conventional rope climbing techniques to reach the tree canopies to reduce the tree safely branch-by-branch.

The only alternative was to work on the tree from an access platform - and Tom Morris was clear the best MEWP for the job was a Hinowa spider boom lift.

He explained: "In the past, we've hired in Hinowa spider booms when we need to, but the rental cost of such a large project made it more feasible for us to buy our own machine.

"Even so, access to the locations across the site to work on the trees has been challenging. But, being a tracked MEWP, the Hinowa Lightlift 17.75 has coped with some ease with everything we asked of it.

"It's incredibly compact and because it's so light, we've been able to tow it directly to the worksite on a lightweight trailer, also supplied by APS, first behind a 4x4 pick-up truck, then for the last half a mile or so behind a tractor up some particularly steep and windy tracks."

At times, the spider cherry picker has looked as if it has grown from the landscape itself, as its boom and basket emerges above a tangle of trees and shrubs, allowing the tree surgeons to get to work.

Using the spider platform's extremely precise and smooth proportional controls, the Morris's Grounds Maintenance team could position its  articulating boom within inches of the castle walls and arches, and place the basket in the safest positions to drop branches without striking the castle.

Tree surgeon Simon Parsons, who has been supervising the work, said: "The Hinowa makes such a huge difference. It's much safer to work from. It's also made almost all aspects of our tree felling operations much faster.

"Even where the platform hasn't had the height to reduce the larger trees, we've used it to get up into trees to attach a rope and pulley system to guide the tree down as we've felled it, saving us a lot of time."

Having the Hinowa LL 17.75 will now create new opportunities for their teams, making the decision to buy the platform a "no-brainer", said Tom Morris.

He added: "Our customers are always impressed when we use Hinowa spider platforms. They know they're safer and we can demonstrate they're more productive, and help us manage trees to the highest standard.

"I'm sure having the Hinowa platform ready to go will win us more work and bigger projects, quickly repaying the trust and the financial investment we've put into acquiring it.

"Ash dieback alone is going to keep the spider platform busy. The disease began to appear in our area around three years ago. Now up to half our jobs involve working on trees affected by ash dieback."

The Hinowa Lightlift 17.75 has a maximum working height of 17.06m, a maximum horizontal outreach of 7.5m and an unrestructured basket capacity of 230kg.

With a tracking width of just 790mm, the spider lift could be moved across the uneven ground and through the narrow entranceways into the heart of the medieval castle to reach the trees that needed to be removed.

The Hinowa LL 17.75 selected by Morris's Grounds Maintenance has a low-emissions diesel engine. It has bi-energy capability as it can be powered via a 110v mains cable, for working indoors, or outdoors where low-noise or fume-free operation is needed.

It can also be supplied with a petrol engine, or as an all-electric spider boom lift, with long-lasting lithium batteries.

The spider platform has a range of features that support safer and more productive working, including two-speed tracking plus one button outrigger levelling and boom stowing functions.




Media Contact

Andy Comber, matm. Tel: 07889 630440 | 01952 883526.

About APS

Access Platform Sales (APS)is the UK's largest independent access sales specialist. It is the authorised UK and Ireland distributor for LGMG platforms, Hinowa spider platforms (plus tracked mini dumpers and tracked forklifts), and BoSS low level access platforms. APS is also the UK distributor for Wienold Lifte material lifts, a UK dealer for MEC platforms, and a reseller of Niftylift access products.