Birds, bats, butterflies and bumblebees are having their habitats enhanced across 11 counties – thanks to UK Power Networks surveying over 100 of its substation sites and increasing their biodiversity.
The sites across the East, London and the South East are being studied and their fauna and flora recorded. Future plans are designed so that wildlife, like hazel dormice and great crested newts can be encouraged and given peaceful pockets of undisturbed land to flourish on.
Already 25 sites across Suffolk, Essex, Norfolk, Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire have been surveyed with more to follow over the summer.
The surveys, carried out in association with local wildlife trusts, record in detail what the area contains and improvement ideas include bat and bird boxes, grass snake habitats, planting native trees and sowing wildflowers.
The company is also building refugia (safe havens), which are artificial habitats to provide homes for small mammals like hedgehogs, as well as reptiles, amphibians and insects.
For example at a site in Debenham staff from UK Power Networks have already planted 60 metres of species-rich native hedgerow, four traditional Suffolk apple trees and native ox-eye daisies, installed three bat boxes and three bird boxes made from recycled wood, trimmed trees and used brash to create a dead hedge.
They have also built four refugia using logs, soil and grass cuttings from the site to provide habitat. The refugia were created by digging a shallow pit, putting in layers of logs in alternate directions and then covering with soil and grass cuttings, ensuring gaps were left so animals could enter the structure.
Heather Patrick, an environment adviser at UK Power Networks, said: “This project provides a great opportunity for our employees to engage with nature, whilst promoting biodiversity across our substation sites. We can all take actions that will help to slow or reverse the loss of biodiversity, including supporting local conservation initiatives.
“As part of our Green Action Plan, UK Power Networks has committed to enhancing the areas around these substations. It’s a local strand of our wider environmental commitment to help the UK on its journey to reach net zero.”
She said a rich variety of flora have been found at the sites already surveyed, including species like hound’s-tongue and shepherd’s cress which are ‘near threatened’, plus meadow saxifrage as well as many woodland species such as guelder rose.
Pictured above is the building of a refugia.