Biodiversity in our local environment
ESB Networks is cognisant of the importance of biodiversity in the Irish landscape, and to ensure its activities are managed in a sustainable manner in relation to biodiversity. It is also aware of the requirements to identify potential impacts on biodiversity with the aim of avoiding or mitigating these impacts, and where feasible, work to enhance biodiversity. The Networks for Net Zero strategy includes specific objectives with regards to nature - We will ensure that we have a net biodiversity gain from our operations by 2025. We will produce a comprehensive biodiversity plan for our operations to support this by end of 2023. We will also plan to have a 10% biodiversity gain for individual major projects on our work programme.
We are responsible for the construction, maintenance and operation of various assets located within a range of protected ecological sites, including those designated under EU legislation, namely Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) and Special Protection Areas (SPA), as well as those designated under national legislation, namely Natural Heritage Areas (NHA). Potential impacts to biodiversity are considered when working within close proximity to protected sites, as well as other non-designated features of ecological interest. Where appropriate, specific work instructions and methods are put in place to ensure the protection of biodiversity during and following any such works.
Our staff regularly engage on various biodiversity-related issues, including Screening for Appropriate Assessment, biosecurity, and mitigation measure implementation, with the support of ESB’s ecology staff.
ESB Networks has recently committed to undertaking a review of biodiversity at selected properties. This review will identify and quantify the extent of Biodiversity at these properties and develop targeted site-specific recommendations for Biodiversity gain where feasible, including the development and rollout of actions to support our contribution to the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan where this fits with the needs of safety, business operations and property management.
We aim to promote biodiversity awareness among our staff, contractors and suppliers and embed these values in our decisions. To this end, we provide the necessary training and support to our staff on biodiversity issues relating to our business activities and facilitate their engagement in providing solutions.
ESB Networks will foster proactive engagement with our colleagues in other utilities and relevant stakeholders to identify synergies for the delivery of biodiversity action at a range of scales across the island of Ireland. We will also encourage and support communities in which we operate to work collaboratively with ESB Networks to highlight biodiversity issues or opportunities and contribute to response actions where feasible.
CASE STUDY – Retired Stradbally Road 38 kV Substation Biodiversity Enhancement Trial
- ESB Networks has initiated a trial project at this retired 38 kV substation property to enhance the biodiversity value of the site
- The site originally comprised extensive stoned and concrete surfaces as well as several towers and a control room building
- Working closely with our civil contractors, ESB Networks has undertaken native meadow seeding and tree planting on site
- The control room has been closed up and repurposed for wildlife, retaining access points for nesting birds and roosting bats
- Specially designed nest boxes to provide breeding sites for kestrels and barn owls have been erected on the retired towers
- Non-native species have been removed and deadwood used to create habitat for insects
- Results from this trial will be used to inform and design biodiversity action at other ESB Networks substations, depots and offices located around the country