The ‘state of nature’ on our solar sites

Posted in: Solar Energy

Posted on: 07.10.2016

cabbage white butterfly at one of our solar farms

Did you know that 56% of UK wildlife species have declined since 1970?

And, even more worrying is that 10% of species are now threatened with extinction. According to the 2016 State of Nature Report, compiled with data from 50 conservation organisations, including our partners Plantlife, climate change is one of the key factors in species decline.

Further evidence to support this was published in the Living Planet Report from WWF and the Zoological Society of London (ZSL). They predict that by 2020, populations of vertebrate species could have fallen by 67% over a 50-year period unless action is taken to reverse the damaging impacts of human activity.  

At Good Energy we strive not only to produce cleaner, greener energy to help combat climate change, but to protect and nourish the natural environments around our generation sites.

When our solar and wind farms are planned, we make sure environmental assessments have taken place before we begin building. These look at a wide range of potential impacts on wildlife, landscape, soil and water, and we do everything possible to minimise any short term potentially adverse effects.

In the longer term, we also want to make sure our development projects have a ‘net positive’ impact on the local environment. That’s why, on all our our energy farms, we seek opportunities to develop biodiversity action plans to create, enhance and improve habitats, restoring ecosystems and allowing wildlife to thrive for years to come.

For example, our Crossroads Solar Farm in Dorset has been seeded with wildflower meadow, which is ideal for birds and insects. Nine beehives have been added to the site to help with pollination and to encourage bee population growth. We also have bat boxes, as well as sheep grazing around the site.

Research into the effects of solar farms on local biodiversity concluded that solar farms can actually support a greater diversity of plants. It was also found that the abundance of butterflies and bumblebees was greater on solar farms, particularly those that are managed with a focus on optimising biodiversity.

And as plant and insect species flourish, so more opportunities are created for birds to thrive. This all means solar farms can really help support the natural ecosystems around them and help to keep them in balance.     

We’re also working with Lancaster University on the Solar Park Impacts on Ecosystem Services or ‘SPIES’ project. The aim of the project is to produce a tool that will help solar farm owners make decisions around development and management that will benefit natural environments. We look forward to providing more news about the project in due course.

You don’t need a solar farm to give nature a helping hand. The National Trust offer advice on how you can make a home for wildlife in your garden, try some of their tips so we can work together to improve the UK’s state of nature.

To learn more about our energy farms, click here

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