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Boost for bumblebees through Green Action Plan

Bumblebees will be among the wildlife helped by a new ‘Green Action Plan’ launched by the UK’s biggest electricity network operator.

From Press releases - 2 May 2019 12:00 AM

Boost for bumblebees through Green Action Plan.jpg

UK Power Networks, which delivers electricity to 8.3 million homes and businesses across the East of England, London and the South East, wants to play its part in handing on a sustainable planet to future generations.

The company has already achieved an 18% drop in its carbon footprint since 2015, and now wants to take sustainability to the next level, with targets for its Green Action Plan which will see 100 substation sites improved to help wildlife and increase biodiversity.

The Green Action Plan will focus on reducing energy and water use in the company’s six major office buildings as well as the firm’s Business Carbon Footprint and look to cut emissions from its fleets and generators and also to limit waste.

UK Power Networks will map its major electricity substation sites to assess existing and potential biodiversity values using a DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) calculator, and create a list of its top 100 sites to focus on. At these prime locations staff will install bat bricks, create bug homes, and plant wild flowers to turn them into thriving habitats for bumblebees and other wildlife to improve their biodiversity value.

Bumblebees are particularly in need of help, with two species having become extinct in the UK during the 20th century. A further eight species (a third of the remaining species) are currently listed on conservation priority species lists due to their large-scale declines, mainly because of changes to the way the countryside is managed. Bumblebees only feed on flowers so need plenty nearby, and many rarer species don’t forage more than 1km.

Melissa Wellings, environment risk manager for UK Power Networks, said: “Our teams are working in communities 24 hours a day to keep the lights on for homes and businesses, and we all want to work in an even more sustainable and socially-conscious way.

“Our new Green Action Plan gives a framework for our aims to reduce waste, water usage, carbon emissions, and air and noise pollution while increasing the biodiversity at many of our sites. Many of our substation sites are based in large fenced-off pockets of land which have been relatively untouched for decades so they include valuable and sometimes scarce habitats.

“The Green Action Plan is about improving our performance and putting in place a series of actions that will benefit the communities we serve and we are excited by what it can achieve. Our role is to keep the lights on for homes and businesses safely and reliably, and this project is about doing that while also having a positive impact on the environment.”

Bumblebee Conservation Trust CEO Gill Perkins said: “We welcome all efforts to restore and conserve areas of wildflowers for bumblebees and are pleased to see that this project is using an evidence based biodiversity calculator to take decisions on where the work can have most impact.

“A core part of our activity at the Bumblebee Conservation Trust is working with landowners to create, restore and maintain high-quality, sustainable bumblebee habitat. We look forward to seeing the end results.”

The power company is adding environmental clauses such as cutting down on plastic and packaging, to all contractor agreements where appropriate. It also sponsors nine wildlife trusts across the areas it serves.