Working for wildlife

As part of Hinkley Point C’s commitment to leave a lasting positive legacy, our team of environmental experts is protecting the environment and promoting biodiversity. 

Improving the environment

Hinkley Point C is committed to biodiversity net-gain, which means making sure any development work undertaken leaves local nature in a better state than before.

Wildlife watch

Working with the Site Consultant Ecologist (SCE) team, Hinkley Point C continuously monitors and mitigates against environmental impact from construction. This includes surveys of bats, breeding and inter-tidal birds, invertebrates, night-flying moths, butterflies and insects, great crested newts and badgers. They also monitor otter and reptile populations.

“Many of the ecological enhancements at Hinkley Point C and its associated sites are beneficial not only to the species they’re developed for but other local species too. For instance, the improvements for great crested newts close to Bridgwater’s Junction 23 Park and Ride have led to habitat benefits for barn owls and kestrels, which now hunt in this area.” Chris Dennis, Hinkley Point C Consultant Ecologist

Three new arrivals appeared at Hinkley Point C this summer when a parcel of oystercatchers hatched near the sea wall. These wading birds are on the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB’s) ‘birds of conservation concern’ amber list, but breeding pairs in England are on the rise – including these new parents. The site’s Environment team first spotted the parents searching for a nesting site. They monitored the two wading birds and put protective measures in place to protect their clutch of eggs. The trio fledged in August and now forage and fend for themselves along the Somerset coastline.

Cutting carbon

As part of Hinkley Point C’s work to create habitats and public recreation space, the site has planted over 65,000 trees and shrubs to date. They will help to screen the site and attract more wildlife. Like all plants, trees take carbon dioxide from the air and release oxygen. They also help the soil capture significant amounts of carbon too.

2017

 

2019

Investing in the Quantocks

The Quantock Hills were England’s first-ever Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). Thanks to funding from Hinkley Point C and others, £2.6m will be invested in the Quantock Landscape Partnership Scheme. Chris Edwards, Quantock Hills AONB Manager, said: “This is great news for all who live in, work in, care for, or simply enjoy the Quantock Hills. These initiatives protect and expand key elements, from hedgerows, heritage trees and woodlands, to local wildflowers, traditional orchards, bats and dormice. It’ll even address what the next 50 years may bring for the Quantocks.”

Safe homes for bats

Barbastelle bats are extremely rare in Britain, but use Hinkley Point C to access wider foraging areas. So that the bat population can continue to migrate and forage, the Environment team has, as part of its commitment to habitat connectivity, built bat crossings on the site’s Green Lane. It’s important that the Green Lane is protected from light spill from our construction operations and recent reports highlight that these dark corridors are doing just that.   

In addition, a new habitat has been established on the nearby East Quantoxhead Estate to support conservation of one of the UK’s last remaining colonies of the bat species.

Somerset Wildlife Trust 

The Somerset’s Brilliant Coast programme, part funded through the Hinkley Point C Community Impact Mitigation (CIM) Fund, raises awareness of the county’s coastal wildlife and landscapes, encourages exploration and helps volunteers look after the coastline. There are many different aspects of the Project. For example, Curious Coast gets people involved in conservation through guided walks, family days and beach cleans. Meanwhile, Parish Shores motivates communities to protect the coastline through initiatives like Plastic Free Community schemes, and Wild Beach gives young people a connection with nature through activities like SeaWatch surveys. For more information, visit somersetwildlife.org

“Berrow Conservation Group needed to develop our monitoring of wildlife. Through Brilliant Coast, Somerset Wildlife Trust’s Mark Ward has helped us write an annual plan of monitoring, and arranged training and support. This work will help us to survey a variety of flora and fauna to preserve and maintain the habitat at our Local Nature Reserve, and complete surveys that link to national databases.”

Lesley Millard, local volunteer

Marine Management 

The red corallina seaweed found along Hinkley Point C’s foreshore provides a unique habitat for a variety of marine life. As corallina can die within 30 minutes if it’s ever deprived of water, the Environment team monitors and manages the shoreline 24/7. The team has created artificial bunds – sandbags wrapped in plastic – which retain water even at low tide. An exclusion zone also protects the Honeycomb worm colonies living nearby. This marine species uses sand to build tubes to live in, which when found in large colonies, creates a reef-like home for other marine wildlife. 

Caring in Cannington

Hinkley Point C has measures in place to protect wildlife in natural habits like those around Cannington Bypass. Badger, bat and otter underpasses allow creatures to cross the road safely, while a new pond and artificial shelter help take care of great crested newts and other rare species. The Project has planted large areas of wildflower grassland, hedges and trees to encourage a wide range of plants and wildlife. Similarly, a mammal crossing has been set up in the nearby village of Combwich to support refurbishment of the wharf which will allow large loads to be delivered by sea.

Luke Stevens, Land and Ecology Lead at EDF Energy, said: “Tree planting began back in 2012 and it’s great to see the wild flower areas come into their own.
“Films and pictures show that all the mitigation measures are being used – which, after all, is the best mark of success.”