Low Carbon commissioned its first solar photovoltaic (PV) energy parks in 2011. Since then, across our UK-wide portfolio of renewable energy projects, we have championed biodiversity as a critical milestone on the journey towards a low-carbon future.

Across all our solar parks we work with landowners and developers to implement comprehensive land management programmes. Each aligns with the conditions and circumstances unique to its site. Yet while we are pledged to protecting existing flora and fauna, most parks benefit still more from the introduction of extensive new planting and husbandry measures.

As sites mature, ongoing development will realise an increasing diversity of habitats and species: from meadows, hedgerows, wildflowers and woodland to sheep, bees, birds, bats, reptiles and invertebrates.

Our approach

 

Here’s a closer look at how we conserve flora and fauna at our solar parks.

Trees

Boundary trees and woodland not only provide excellent animal habitats but also usefully screen solar arrays from general view. Native oak, willow, hazel, blackthorn and ash are in abundance at sites such as Wilmingham and Warleigh Barton.

Meadows, grassland and wild flowers

Newer sites such as Emberton, Branston and Lackford Estate have seen species-rich, locally-suited grasses established or re-seeded according to land management plans, with medleys of wildflowers attracting a rich variety of birds and insects. At Berwick, landowners have overcome naturally marshy conditions, supporting insects, breeding birds and small mammals by planting over 900m of native hedgerow.

Sheep

Ground-mount solar parks are often developed on low-grade land, to avoid impact on existing farming methods. At parks such as Rudbaxton and St Columb, livestock have been retained and replenished, allowing fruitful continuity of agricultural best practice. Sizeable flocks graze at Battens Farm, Hellums Field, Wilmingham, Warleigh Barton and Callington.

Bees

Global bee populations are severely affected by climate change yet they are critically important to farming and biodiversity. To encourage thriving bee colonies, solar parks provide ideal protected habitats and abundant food sources. Low Carbon partners with beekeepers to manage extensive hives on carefully selected sites. Five per site have been installed at Lackford Estate, Trigon, Trenouth, Hellums Field and Hope, with 10 hives in situ at Callington. Such initiatives have boosted the total bee population of our solar parks to more than two million and rising. We also farm the honey produced at many sites.

Birds and bats

At the award winning Lackford Estate solar park, responsible land management ensures protection of nesting stone curlews. Four Burrows conserves the EU-protected breeding habits of skylarks, and we have installed numerous bird and bat boxes at most sites.

Small mammals

The ample vegetation which flourishes at most solar PV parks protects and helps propagate a diversity of fauna, with Warleigh Barton‘s hazel coppice ideal for dormice and similar species. At Battens Farm, developers have taken care not to disturb badger setts, whilst at Lackford Estate, transit gaps were created for smaller mammals.

Insects 

Maturing new and re-seeded meadows and flowers naturally encourage butterflies, beetles, spiders and arthropods, with insect hotels and log piles found at numerous sites.

Amphibians and reptiles

All parks have established land management programmes sympathetic to lizards, frogs, toads and other reptiles. Branston features hibernacula attractive to these fast-disappearing species.