Making Work Work: Protecting Biodiversity at EDF
EDF is committed to protecting and enhancing biodiversity for areas of land and water impacted by its operations. The company has a Biodiversity Standard, setting a framework to ensure that a positive approach is taken to biodiversity across its entire value chain. Current activities include conservation efforts of rare species at Dungeness nuclear plant and the creation of new habitats at Hinkley Point C and Sizewell C new build projects.
EDF is the country’s biggest generator of zero carbon electricity and supports its customers in decarbonising their energy usage. Its purpose is to help Britain achieve net zero.
EDF is a leading investor and industrial developer of wind, nuclear and solar generation alongside energy storage and other new technologies to support the transition to a low-carbon economy.
The significant and diverse physical presence of EDF across the country means that operating practices and procedures have the potential to impact, both positively and negatively, on biodiversity.
With careful management, EDF is taking steps to ensure that any adverse consequences of its activities are minimised. Key areas of impact include emissions from electricity generation, energy use, business-related transport, the release of pollutants to land, air or water, and biodiversity effects through the supply chain.
What EDF did
EDF has a Biodiversity Standard setting a framework of strategic goals to deliver a positive outcome for biodiversity. EDF protects and enhances the land with the support of biodiversity action plans at all of its power generation sites.
Where new projects are being proposed, or significant changes to existing activities, EDF applies the precautionary principle and undertakes ecological surveys to avoid adverse impacts on biodiversity and enable enhancement opportunities to be identified.
A dedicated biodiversity team manages the non-operational land surrounding EDF’s existing nuclear power stations. A diverse range of habitats and species exist, from woodland, wetland and wildflower meadows to birds, bats and butterflies. Some of this land is also designated for nature conservation. EDF aims to maintain and enhance the existing biodiversity, and progress towards this is monitored.
Biodiversity action plans are in place at all of EDF’s nuclear generation sites. Within these action plans, biodiversity objectives for each station are set based on Key Biodiversity Receptors. These are supported by Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and associated targets, which are assessed each year using the results of surveys and other work on site.
Examples of positive biodiversity efforts include the protection of red hemp-nettle on EDF’s land at Dungeness nuclear plant. Management of this rare species has been so successful that numbers have increased from 55 in 2012 to 896 in 2021. The target in the previous biodiversity action plan was to record a minimum of 50 plants per year, which has been increased to 500 individual plants in the new plan.
Hinkley Point C is committed to leaving the local environment in a better state than before. Around 50 environmental specialists are enhancing local biodiversity and habitats, helping nature to thrive on land previously used for agriculture. This includes the creation of a newly restored area on the site’s southern boundary and support for a local wetland reserve. The space has been designed and landscaped to attract wildlife by creating bird boxes, a bat barn and habitats for breeding water voles, and by planting native shrubs and trees. Hinkley Point C has also been monitoring birds at the river and the coast close to the site and supports the restoration of the salt marsh habitat. Hinkley Point C has donated more than £540k to environmental projects.
The Sizewell C new nuclear project expects to achieve a 19% net gain in biodiversity in the long term. EDF has already started this habitat creation. New habitats were created specifically for foraging marsh harriers. An independent Environmental Trust promoting wildlife and the environment will be established in Suffolk and £78 million will be invested through this trust.
EDF Renewables UK is committed to enhancing the biodiversity around its onshore and offshore wind farms. One example is Dorenell wind farm, where some plant and animal species are monitored and restored, and historic water levels are being reinstated.
EDF Renewables UK recently launched a new research programme that looks at increasing the benefits that large-scale solar farms can have on biodiversity, soil health and carbon, wildlife habitats and farmland management in the UK. The research programme will focus on the proposed Longfield Solar Farm and develop biodiversity improvement plans for habitat restoration and management. It will be testing the biodiversity improvements of a range of measures, such as planting hedgerows, creating wildflower meadows, and installing beehives.
How BITC helped EDF
EDF is a founding member of Business in the Community (BITC). Membership provides access to tools, guides, case studies, networking opportunities and events.
EDF is responding to BITC’s call to identify where and how it impacts ecosystems, to take steps to improve the health of water, land, biodiversity, and air quality, and to identify opportunities to invest in preserving nature to create value in new ways such as boosting health and wellbeing, accelerating climate action and building a circular economy.
Impacts and outcomes
- Sustainability: Efforts to enhance biodiversity enable EDF to contribute to maintaining healthy and well-functioning ecosystems. Biodiversity loss can expose companies to resource scarcity, supply chain disruptions and increased costs.
- Climate: Biodiversity also makes an important contribution to both climate-change mitigation and adaptation. Natural habitats are major stores of carbon.
- Wellbeing: Biodiversity is essential to support life on Earth. Human wellbeing relies on healthy ecosystems to provide populations with air, water and food.
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