Business

AES puts its power into plan to protect wildlife

Pupils from Larne Grammar School join AES UK & Ireland president Ian Luney joins Monika Wojcieszek from Ulster Wildlife to launch the new biodiversity action plan

A PLAN to protect and enhance the wildlife surrounding two of the north's largest power stations has been launched by electricity generator AES UK & Ireland in partnership with nature conservation charity Ulster Wildlife.

Following the discovery of rare bee orchid more than 12 years ago, AES now boasts more than 350 different plants and animals at its Ballylumford and Kilroot sites in Co Antrim, including over 70 protected or priority species such as cowslips, small heath butterfly, black guillemot, Irish hares, and badgers.

Alongside wildflower meadows, woodlands, ponds and coastal habitats, the industrial land itself has become an unlikely haven for wildlife, with over 150 sand martin pairs making their homes in the coal ash lagoon on site, which replicates the birds' traditional cliff nesting sites.

AES has been working closely with Ulster Wildlife to audit, plan and embed action for the important species and habitats on its sites and within its staff team, and to encourage wider community involvement through education and volunteering programmes.

Ian Luney, president of AES UK &Ireland, said, “This plan represents a new level of ambition and commitment to biodiversity on these sites. Thanks to our long-standing partnership with Ulster Wildlife, we have grown a company-wide programme which motivates our people, deepens our engagement with local schools and community groups, and ensures our wildlife-rich land remains an asset now and in the future.

"This sets set a new standard for corporate engagement with biodiversity in Northern Ireland.”

Over the next five years,AES will continue to undertake a range of positive actions to protect and enhance biodiversity on their land, including managing and creating species-rich grasslands, providing homes for wildlife, planting trees and hedges, undertaking beach cleans, controlling invasive species, surveying and monitoring wildlife, and engaging their employees and wider community in conservation and awareness activities.

This commitment to biodiversity will continue as AES seeks to enhance its existing platform through a new generation of sustainable energy solutions that will provide critical supply beyond 2020.

Jennifer Fulton, chief executive of Ulster Wildlife, said: “We're delighted to be working alongside our corporate supporter AES to help champion nature.

"The company's continued dedication to biodiversity provides a positive example of the benefits engagement with the natural world can bring to a business. Industry has an important part to play in helping with nature's recovery in Northern Ireland and, with careful management, wildlife will flourish, even on important and challenging energy infrastructure sites such as this.”

To find out more about how businesses can play their part to secure space for nature in Northern Ireland, visit www.ulsterwildlife.org/corporatesupport

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