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Ecology and Biodiversity

Ecology and Biodiversity

Pond

Ponds like these can be incorporated into our sites

Our goal is to lead the solar industry in best practice when it comes to enhancing ecology and biodiversity at our solar farms.

The ecological management of our projects is overseen by Dr. Guy Parker (Wychwood Biodiversity), who is a leader in the field of biodiversity management within solar farms and co-authored the BRE National Solar Centre’s Biodiversity Guidance for Solar Developments.

We employ well-respected independent ecologists to carry out pre-planning ecological surveys and produce a bespoke Landscape and Ecology Management Plan (LEMP) to be implemented after the solar farm has been built, overseen by Wychwood.

“Traditional sources of funding for conservation work have declined in recent years. Projects such as these could lead to self-sustaining nature reserves, which would be a huge boost to wildlife, the local environment and the local community.”

“Obviously this is also a green source of renewable energy which will create electricity to supply hundreds of local homes. This is a big win for everyone in the area. This site can be developed as a shining example of how you can turn a basic, unremarkable grassland site into an improved site and newt haven.”

Mick Weston, Head of Operations, Lancashire Wildlife Trust

 

Tussocky grassland like this can also be used to significantly improve biodiversity

Tussocky grassland can be used to improve biodiversity

All our solar farms include the following as standard:

  1. The area beneath and around the solar panels is sown with local, native wildflower and wild grass seeds to create a haven for wildlife, which develops naturally over time. The land is managed as a wildflower meadow in spring and summer, then grazed by sheep in autumn and winter.
  2. The wide grass margins at the edge of the site are managed to produce tussocky grassland which is ideal for ground nesting birds, small mammals, reptiles and bumblebees.
  3. Ponds or clay-lined scrapes may be created to provide habitat for aquatic invertebrates.
  4. Hibernacula to provide refuges for amphibians and reptiles to hibernate over winter.
  5. Bird and bat boxes around the perimeter of the site.
  6. Gaps are left at intervals along the fenceline to provide access for foraging hedgehogs and badgers.
  7. Sites for bee hives are identified for both solitary and honey bees – if you are interested in keeping bee hives at one of our sites please get in contact.

 

Diagram of Hibernaculum. Click to see a full size version

Diagram of Hibernaculum – click for full size

Wychwood monitors the biodiversity at each site on an annual basis, including botany, breeding birds and invertebrates, to track improvements and provide an independent check on our ecological management.

In many areas – for example Dorset, Hampshire and Staffordshire – we also work with the local Wildlife Trusts to take advice on appropriate local ecological measures.

As a result of this industry-leading focus on biodiversity improvements and our experience in community-ownership projects, Lancashire Wildlife Trust has asked Solstice to develop solar sites across under-utilised areas of their estates.

 

An example of beehives at a solar farm

An example of beehives at a solar farm