Partnerships are key to boosting biodiversity at renewable energy sites in the UK

Here at Queequeg Renewables, we’ve partnered with Biodiverse Consulting, a UK environmental consultancy that specialises in biodiversity net gain (BNG). So far, we’ve worked together on five solar and BESS (Battery Energy Storage System) projects across the UK to ensure that each site meets its BNG targets.

In recent years, biodiversity next gain has become a significant consideration in the UK. In February 2024, it was mandated as part of The Environment Act 2021. The law ensures that developments affecting habitats are left in a measurably better state than they were before by at least 10 percent. This ensures that natural habitats across the UK are improved by new development projects instead of being damaged.

Solar is a perfect BNG opportunity

Well-designed and managed solar farms contribute to a range of important ecosystem features. They can support sustainable agriculture, regulate air quality, mitigate flood risk, generate new habitats, and reduce carbon emissions. All these factors contribute to considerable BNG gains.

Solar farms improve local biodiversity by supporting new and existing plant and animal life in a range of ways, both on-site and on nearby land. These include:

  • Establishing wildflower meadows and grasslands: The large spaces between ground-mounted solar panels provide plenty of space to create new habitats for pollinators, butterflies, and ground-nesting birds.
  • Preserving and supporting new hedgerow growth: To reverse hedgerow loss, a major concern for countryside management across the UK, new solar projects aim to preserve, restore, or even deliver new hedgerow growth.
  • Preserving and promoting new wetland habitats: On-site drainage and water management systems can be specifically designed to incorporate wetland habitats. These systems reduce local flood risk and support terrestrial and aquatic life with wetlands and ponds.

Solar panels themselves are installed on posts, meaning there is minimal disturbance to the ground. Typically, just one to two percent of the total site area is used by these posts: the rest of the land is available for sheep-grazing, or for use to actively improve the local environment through wildflower meadows or re-wilding.

The importance of partnerships

As a renewable energy developer, we at Queequeg Renewables are committed to maintaining and improving the environment. This includes preserving existing habitats, creating new ones, and enhancing biodiversity at each of our sites.

The expert team at Biodiverse Consulting works with us a from a project’s initial concept stage to understand the flora and fauna on site and the habitats and wildlife that are present. They then create a bespoke solution that maximises a new site’s positive impact for people and wildlife alike. Their insight is invaluable to achieving the BNG rates set out by the updates made with The Environment Act.

Achieving sustainable goals can be a complex process and BNG is no different. That’s why we cannot stress enough the significance of building strategic partnerships to achieve the 10 percent BNG rate required by government. If we work together, and share our knowledge and experience, building a greener world becomes a lot easier.

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