Partnership shone through when a project to replace two lookout huts on Dartmoor Training Area in Devon was faced with the challenge of physically transporting the huts to their final destination at the top of two granite tors. The RAF and the Royal Navy offered their assistance in the form of a Merlin helicopter and a team on the ground to orchestrate the successful siting of the two huts.
The huts are an important part of how the training area operates. Dartmoor National Park has a high volume of rainfall, which makes it susceptible to erosion. For this reason Landmarc, DIO‘s industry partner for the day-to-day management of the Defence training estate, employs a team of Range Clearers. These individuals operate on horseback, moving livestock from the range before live firing starts to protect them and the fragile environment. Once this task is complete, the clearers fall back to lookout huts on the periphery to scan and monitor the ranges in case of any incursions into the live firing area.
Two of the huts needed to be replaced so we worked with our supplier, Thurston Group Ltd, on the design. We upgraded the specification slightly to include double glazing and new wood burning stoves, which will help to deal with the harsh winter weather Dartmoor is prone to.
Placing the new huts
The location of the huts is well off the track network, with one at Rough Tor and the other at Great Mis Tor, both within the Merrivale Ranges of Dartmoor Training Area. As a result we were faced with the challenge of how to site them safely and efficiently. We knew that in the past huts had been flown out as underslung loads on Sea King or Chinook helicopters.
Crispin D'Apice, the DIO Training Safety Officer for Okehampton, got in touch with the RAF Joint Air Delivery and Test & Evaluation Unit. They confirmed they would be happy to assist by arranging a helicopter and personnel to move the new huts out and bringing the old huts back in for recycling.
On the day, Landmarc staff were positioned at both locations as well as Holming Beam where the old huts were to be temporarily stored. The RAF ground teams were very efficient and looked as though they did this sort of thing on a daily basis! The Royal Navy duly obliged with a helicopter and during a well-orchestrated day the two huts were flown out from Okehampton Camp and onto the moor under a Merlin and anchored into position, all ready for live firing resume. It was a nervy day for the onlooking Crispin and I but everything went very smoothly. It was a real win-win situation, benefiting us by providing a much-needed service, and providing a training opportunity for our military colleagues.