Solar Farm Wildlife
A Golden-ringed Dragonfly (Cordulegaster boltonii) spotted by one of our electrical engineers at jordanston solar Farm, pembrokeshire
The stationary nature of a solar farm provides a great opportunity to encourage wildlife and contribute to national biodiversity targets (BRE, 2014). Once initial installation has been completed, there is minimal disturbance to the site which allows species to flourish. Raised panels are supported by posts that take up little ground surface area, and leave the majority of the site open to ‘complementary agricultural activities’ such as conservation grazing, plant growth or biodiversity enhancement. Research by BRE (2014) has suggested that the installation of solar infrastructure creates a long-term barrier against land use change and disturbance and allows species to regenerate. Additionally, solar energy production provides a clean renewable energy source which combats against the anthropogenic driven change in environmental conditions and implications for native local species. Below are some of the native British wildlife we have come across during our maintenance visits to the sites.
The potential of many of our sites is enhanced by incorporating low intensity grazing, a complementary agricultural activity (BRE, 2014). This is a mutually beneficial practise as the sheep flock provide cost effective maintenance of the vegetation growth so that it does not cause an obstruction to solar generation. The presence of sheep enables the land to remain agriculturally productive, and the raised panels take up minimal ground surface area, allowing the sheep to roam freely (BRE, 2014). The installation of ground mounted panels means they are ideal for lambing. The solar panels sit high off the ground, creating shelter for new born lambs, while the high security fencing around the solar farms also means there are minimal chances for foxes to gain entry.
Our farms are bordered by hedgerows and banks which support many of Britain’s much loved farmland birds, providing habitat to nest and forage. They also provide crucial habitat for mammals and insects, we are currently in the process of enhancing our hedgerows with native species. Hedgerows and field margins are also important as they create corridors that allow movement between habitats and reduce the impacts of habitat fragmentation. Wild birds such as those in the photographs, their nests and eggs are fully protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, which makes it an offence to intentionally kill, injure or take any wild bird. It is also an offence to intentionally take, damage or destroy the eggs, young or nest while it is being built or in use. We take great care to prevent disturbance to birds and their nests during hedge maintenance and trimming.
Solar Farms We Operate and Maintain
At Silverstone Green Energy we are looking into potential ways to enhance the biodiversity on our sites and boost native species populations, and preserve our ‘natural capital’ (European commission, 2011). We feel the lands provides a valuable resource that should be utilised to its full potential. In order to make this most effective, each solar farm requires site specific monitoring and management. Dependent on local species, conditions and habitats, potential biodiversity enhancement under the UK post-2010 Biodiversity Framework includes the introduction of strategically placed hibernacula, log piles and structures to benefit species populations. Additionally, sowing seeds for local provenance wildflower species can boost pollen and nectar feeding insect populations. This will in turn provide prey for birds and animals further up the food chain.