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Utilities Sector Case Studies

Severn Trent Water

Severn Trent Water Limited, provider of water, waste and utility services to the English Midlands and mid Wales launched a Biodiversity Action Plan in 1999 in order to enhance the environmental condition of their land-holdings.

Working with a wide range of partners throughout the region, Severn Trent’s Biodiversity Action Plan has been contributing significantly to the delivery of local and regional biodiversity targets. In addition to helping wildlife, the BAP has helped the company initiate operational improvements. For example, reed beds which were constructed for tertiary sewage treatment resulted in an increased population of the reed bunting, a species of high conservation value, in the area. Implementing the BAP has helped Severn Trent to meet the EU Freshwater Fish Directive and River Quality Objectives.

Other major components of the Biodiversity Action Plan include environmental education and promotion of conservation. Staff training raises awareness to biodiversity issues and provides employees with guidance and skills on how to manage sites. Local communities and staff participate in conservation volunteer days, on and off site, learning about the opportunities for biodiversity enhancement.

Severn Trent promotes and reports on their actions and achievements, hoping to encourage similar initiatives to be developed by others, through annual CARE Reports (Conservation Access Recreation and Education) and BAP Progress reports. They have also been awarded a number of awards demonstrating and publicising their commitment to biodiversity, examples include Living Wetlands RSPB 2003; Green Apple 2004.

For more information on Severn Trent’s Biodiversity Action Plan and activities click here.


As part of one of its environmental sustainability principles, BNFL has made a public commitment to conserving biodiversity. This is supported by a target to implement a Biodiversity Action Plans at all of its UK Nuclear sites by the end of 2005/06. Implementation of the plan is progressing well.

An example of the conservation activities which BNFL have initiated is at the company’s Berkeley Site in Gloucestershire. The company arranged for the South Gloucestershire Drainage Board to modify the maintenance regime they undertake on the Conigre Pill, a small watercourse, to protect the reed beds. Routine flood defence work has been deferred until September each year, to allow whitethroats and reed warblers to breed undisturbed. Also the decommissioning of the disused Cooling Water structures for Berkeley Power Station was managed to minimise the potential disruption to breeding birds on the Severn Estuary.

BNFL also supports the commitment of staff members in carrying out biodiversity initiatives. At the Risley office employees from Nuclear Science and Technology Services, put up bat and bird boxes and helped to clear birch trees encroaching on the edge of the local Risley Moss Nature Reserve.

Northumbrian waterNorthumbrian Water

For several years Northumbrian Water have been working with the Durham, Northumberland, Tees Valley, Essex, Suffolk, and Norfolk Wildlife Trusts, and the Broads Authority to improve its company sites and to promote conservation.

Following a consultation workshop in spring 2002, Northumbrian Water developed a shared learning programme which enabled them to work efficiently with biodiversity partners and to share expertise and experience. The benefits of such work are of great importance for both sides as the partnership provides valuable business skills, such as customer service, strategy development and negotiating skills for the conservation groups and in return it offers expertise on the impacts of environmental legislation, practical conservation skills and raising the environmental awareness to the company.

In the company's environmental policy, priorities issues are: risk management aimed to reduce damage of sites with archaeological and conservation importance; conservation surveys to identify key biological species, such as dragonfly and bats; achieving BAP targets set for 8 habitats and 41 species; and sustainable agriculture with an emphasis on water quality. A folder of further information is available from the company on request.

marsh orchidsRWE npower

RWE npower recognised the importance of biodiversity in the 1990's and became one of the leaders in the industry to implement a company-wide strategy to protect and improve biodiversity on its sites and in the communities where the company operates. Site Biodiversity Action Plans were prepared for Aberthaw in Wales and Fawley in Dorset. Today the saline lagoon at Aberthaw boasts a variety of locally and nationally important species such as bee orchids, purple gromwell and the rare green flat worm species. Fawley is located among several sites of recognised biodiversity importance and supports many rare species and unusual habitats within its boundaries. A particular feature of the site is the representation of transitional habitats, from saltmarsh to vegetated shingle and from dry grassland to fen and reedbed. Notable rare species of plant recorded on the site include Annual Beard-grass, Divided Sedge and Little robin.

Just outside Didcot Power Station in Oxfordshire the company supported the establishment of an environmental education centre at Sutton Courtney Nature Reserve. At Little Barford Power Station in Cambridgeshire the company has supported the Landscape 2000 scheme (which is linked to Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire Biodiversity Action Plans) for over 10 years. The scheme’s projects aim to improve the quality of the environment around St. Neots, Cambridgeshire, through working with the local community to plant and restore trees and enhance the quality of churchyards, ponds, parks and other green areas.

RWE npower was also the first company to support and sponsor the Business and Biodiversity Resource Centre formulated to encourage and provide information to companies about biodiversity conservation.

Scottish Power

Scottish Power has developed a model for preparing Site Biodiversity Action Plans which it now applies to all its large sites in the UK. SP Generation UK, Scottish Power’s electricity generation business, carried out comprehensive surveys of its sites, taking stock of biodiversity as well as other environmental and operational activities. Following a prioritisation exercise, sites at Galloway, Cockenzie, Longannet and six of the Company’s hydro-electric schemes along the Dee and Ken rivers began the process of preparing Site Biodiversity Action Plans. Equally, SP Power Systems, the business responsible for electricity transmission and distribution in Southern Scotland, put together a Site BAP for the Townhill substation in Fife.

These plans outline how the Company can positively enhance biodiversity for the Company’s land holdings, some of which qualifies as priority habitat under the UK and local BAPs. Each one is compiled through cooperation with various local stakeholders, such as the local biodiversity partnership, wildlife trust or rangers. Ultimately, the Site BAPs are amalgamated into the Company’s overall Environmental Management System for each site, thus mainstreaming the biodiversity work into the sites’ overall operations.

Photo Credit:
Waterfall, Phillippa Arnott
Biodiversity Leaflet/Northumbrian Water
RWE npower, Southern Marsh Orchids







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