Ambitious commitments to improve environmental sustainability and biodiversity for Western Power Distribution customers in Wales have been unveiled.
The company distributes electricity across the region and, as part of its £6.7bn business plan for 2023-2028, is campaigning towards a carbon-free future as quickly as possible.
Goals include improving grid reliability, enabling more customers to connect electric vehicles and heat pumps, and zeroing the company’s carbon emissions, while maintaining the Western Power’s share of the energy bill more or less stable.
One of the specific commitments the company has made to regulator Ofgem is to improve biodiversity to address a historic decline in native species.
It aims to achieve a 10% net gain in plant, animal and animal life at new major project sites and for certain primary and network substation sites.
Improving biodiversity will allow Western Power to have a positive impact on its environment and benefit customers by improving community well-being and overall air quality.
Andy Martyr-Icke of Western Power said, “As a company, we understand that we have a major role to play in environmental sustainability.
“Our future plans are not only aimed at minimizing the environmental impact of our operations, but also at having a positive effect and achieving a net gain in biodiversity at our main sites.
“Electrical substations, for example, have always been deserts for nature due to the justified need to protect equipment and assets.
“But we’re looking to be more creative, like using wild grasses and shrubs that attract pollinators, rather than gravel or concrete.
“Nothing is on the table and there is nothing we shouldn’t consider.
“We will need to work with design and engineering colleagues to ensure that the safety and efficiency of our network is not impacted while increasing biodiversity efforts.”
Western Power’s environmental team will also work with external partners such as wildlife trusts, as well as conservationists and other specialists, to develop best practices for boosting flora and fauna.
Metrics developed by Defra will be used at Western Power sites to assess progress and measure environmental impact.
By 2028, all major new infrastructure projects and new connections will have a biodiversity enhancement plan.
This will include an assessment of the direct or indirect impact of any work on the landscape and will target species and habitats identified as being at risk.
This will lead to better biodiversity, a healthier, more stable and sustainable ecosystem, a cleaner environment, less disruption to cable repairs and cleaning operations, and reduced carbon emissions.
The company’s commitment to biodiversity includes working closely with Natural England when the company operates at Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) to ensure there is no adverse effect.
“It is an extremely exciting time,” Mr. Martyr-Icke added. “When it comes to biodiversity, we need to completely rethink everything we do and how we do it.”
For more information on Western Power’s business plan commitments, visit westernpower.co.uk/businessplan