A day in the life of…a Site Manager

Billy Livingstone worked for the Royal Air Force as an Air Traffic Controller for 27 years before transferring to Landmarc as Site Manager for Air Weapons Ranges’ (AWR) Tain and Cape Wrath in 2014, a role that he had been carrying out for 11 years previously with former contractor VT Aerospace. 

Billy Lingstone Site Manager

 

Two diverse sites some 90 miles apart, AWR Tain was originally a World War II airfield built on Morrich Moor to the north east of the town of Tain. AWR Tain lies on the shore of the Dornoch Firth, 10 miles northeast of Invergordon. The area has served as both a wartime airfield for the RAF, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and the United States of America Forces (USAAF), with flying continuing after the war until the 1960s. Today, aircrews from RAF Lossiemouth are trained in air weaponry on the range, along with North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) aircrew, all supported by Landmarc.

Cape Wrath covers an area of approximately 35,000 acres and is home to a wide range of wildlife with various parts of the training area being designated Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs). It is located at the far northwest corner of the UK mainland approximately 120 miles from Inverness and the range forms part of an area that is often referred to as ‘the last great wilderness’ due to its remoteness. Range control can only be accessed by a 4 x 4 vehicle because getting to it involves driving across nearly a mile of beach before driving through a mile or more of sand dunes. Cape Wrath is the only range in Europe where land, sea and air training activities can be conducted simultaneously and where the Armed Forces can train using live 1000lb bombs.

Billy’s role is varied, but generally involves supporting the Area Delivery Manager with the day-to-day running of the sites. He explains, “One of the things I love most about the job is interacting with staff on sites and across the business. I’m involved with monthly Range Inspections at both locations, chairing monthly unit meetings with Team Supervisors and Team Leaders and liaising with DIO’s Training Safety Officer. I also carry out daily audio soft checks, which involves recording all radio transmissions between AWR controllers and military and civilian aircraft. The audio soft has a list of daily checks to ensure that it is recording correctly; this has to be done every day before we are allowed to operate.

The transfer of dangerous cargo

“Perhaps one of the most unusual elements of my role is looking after the transfer of dangerous cargo at Cape Wrath. Dangerous cargo includes items such as ammunition, paints, fire extinguishers and petrol and diesel, which are all listed in the International Maritime Dangerous Goods code book (IMDG).

“This is significant, because to access the Cape Wrath range we have to go by boat, so we are transferring this dangerous cargo by sea. You may not know this but part of our duties here includes the operation of a boat, two ribs and two 15 metre pontoons to transport vehicles and personnel across the Kyle of Durness. In order to transfer the cargo, we have a licence to carry explosives and I am a qualified Explosive Security Officer in order to oversee this task. We need to check that the items are packaged correctly and that they are being transferred in the correct amount according to weight and specific categories.

“Cape Wrath is a two hour drive from Tain, so each visit entails a four hour round trip. We therefore liaise closely with local sub-contractors about tide times and weather conditions for organising the timings of each trip, as they operate the boats on our behalf.

"Every day is different as a Site Manager, I need to be flexible to meet new priorities as they arrive. Facing constant change, this requires an open minded approach which I enjoy, as well as a good work /life balance, with only a 10 minute drive to work.

An amazing variety of flora and fauna

“Interestingly, both Tain and Cape Wrath are classified as Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs), Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) and Ramsar - a wetland site designated of international importance under the Ramsar Convention - with an amazing variety of wildlife and flora and fauna. Tain has a high percentage of the coastal juniper for the whole of Scotland. We also have various heather, salt marsh and orchids and regular visits from birds including several buzzards, red kites, ospreys various nesting sea birds and herons. Once, whilst out in the wilds of Cape Wrath I spotted a Golden eagle – it was amazing!

“Families of stoats are seen regularly and there have seen sightings of what we believe are wildcats. Some may be surprised by this given that our daily business is dropping bombs and firing bullets but there are many plans in place to ensure that these areas are protected.

A really great team

“I work hard to maintain good relationships with all of the staff, sub-contractors and customers at our sites, so one of the most rewarding parts of my job is when I get positive responses when asking for support. We really do have a great team here - in fact my son, daughter and son-in-law all work with me at Tain. I have really enjoyed the time I have been employed by Landmarc.

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