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Back to Blog 20 December 2022

ESB's Biodiversity and Environmental Projects

Our Story

Right across ESB, we are stepping forward on social and environmental responsibility, cultivating a safe, sound, and sustainable ethos in line with our values. 

NATURE+ENERGY: Adding Value to Ireland’s Renewable Resources  

We support and participate in the Nature+Energy programme, with our wind farm in Carnsore, Co Wexford being one of the nine onshore wind farms partaking in the study. 

The Nature+Energy project is founded on the idea that wind farms have the potential to provide so much more than just renewable energy. When managed properly, the biodiversity on onshore wind farms has the potential to not only take even more carbon out of the atmosphere but also to improve the resilience of ecosystems to climate change and to enhance the provision of ecosystem services, such as pollination, water filtration and habitat provision.  

There is potential to enhance nature’s contributions to people through improving our understanding of how habitat quality, diversity and connectivity can be enhanced by wind farmland management for conservation. Nature+Energy will develop new ways of accounting for the value of nature on wind farms. 

Nature+Energy is funded by MaREI, the Science Foundation Ireland Research Centre for Energy, Climate and Marine, Wind Energy Ireland, and a consortium of Irish renewable energy companies including ESB. 

Find out more about the project here. 

Pollinator Action at ESB Networks Training Centre, Portlaoise

As a key partner to the 2021-2025 All Ireland Pollinator Plan (AIPP). we are committed to taking up opportunities for more pollinator friendly management of landscapes within our property portfolio, where this fits with the needs of safety, business operations and property management. 

We are continuing to collate asset site information with the objective of identifying parts of sites suitable for supporting pollinators, through various actions such as minor changes in moving regimes or new habitat creation.

Significant progress has been made at the ESB Networks Training Centre in Portlaoise, where several areas of the 14-hectare site (which would historically have been subject to regular mowing) is now subject to both short-flowering and long-flowering meadow regimes. This has proven to be immediately successful, with a diverse wildflower sward becoming apparent in the first growing season, including two species of orchid. Practicalities of the mowing regimes have been discussed with the ESB Networks staff with responsibility for grass cutting and landscaping, with lessons learnt to be collated and utilized to inform broader rollout at our other sites.

Informative signage sourced from the Pollinator Plan website has been erected throughout the site, while a summer student placement trialled the usage of QR codes for future signage to direct readers to relevant online resources. Pollinator-friendly mowing regimes will be continued through 2023 and beyond, with further actions such as bulb and tree planting being considered.

More information here.  

Eel Trap and Transport activities 

ESB is committed to Ireland's environment and natural landscape, with sustainability one of our core values. We operate a trap and transport programme for migrating silver eel. Juvenile eel (elvers) coming from the Atlantic Ocean are captured in elver boxes and released into freshwater habitats upstream of our stations throughout the Shannon, Erne, Liffey, Lee, and Clady River catchments. When fully grown, the adult eels move downstream and are captured in large river nets. They are released downstream of the stations where they continue their ocean migration. In recent years, ESB's Trap and Transport programme accounted for most eels transported across Europe.  

More information here.  As part of ESB’s proposed redevelopment of the West Offaly Power (WOP) station site, there is a requirement to decommission and remove the existing main boiler building. This structure has comprised a peregrine falcon nesting box on the southern aspect since its construction, which has been frequently utilised by a breeding pair of falcons over recent years. This charismatic bird of prey is still recovering from serious declines in the 1960s, relating to the use of the pesticide DDT leading to widespread breeding failures. They hunt other birds, including songbirds, jackdaws and pigeons, and the waders and ducks which frequent the River Shannon west of our site. In the hope that the WOP site can continue to support breeding peregrines in the future, ESB has consulted with the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) and engaged the services of a bird of prey specialist, Wildlife Management Solutions, to relocate the nesting box at the site to a peripheral building which will be retained as part of the proposed redevelopment. The presence of peregrine falcons at the site and usage of the new nest box will be monitored over the coming years.

Lough Allen Ecology Studies  

Studies have continued through 2021 on the ecology of Lough Allen and interactions with ESB-controlled water levels. Further to fisheries studies on pollan populations in the lake undertaken by ESB between 2018 and 2020, research is ongoing regarding habitats and species associated with this waterbody. Specialist botanical and bird surveys are being done at Lough Allen as part of a long-term monitoring study on the lake's fluctuating water levels. This includes the monitoring of three rare and protected plant species found on the shores of Lough Allen: Irish lady’s tresses, mudwort and thread rush. Furthermore, data on soil water content and temperature and water levels are collected by specialist hydrological monitoring equipment installed under licence at two locations on the lakeshore. To date, a range of bird species have been recorded at Lough Allen, including breeding colonies of common gull and lesser black-backed gull present on small islands within the lake, as well as breeding sandpipers on its lakeshore.

Bees at Fitzwilliam 27 

As part of ESB’s commitment to biodiversity, the rooftop of our headquarters at Fitzwilliam Street, Dublin 2 is home to two active honeybee hives. These were installed in April 2022 by Hive Mind, which also manages the hives to nurture the bees and their environment. 

During the summer of 2022, the bees produced a 9kg harvest of honey which was available to consume in the restaurant and fifth-floor café of our building at Fitzwilliam 27. A second harvest also took place in early September 2022. 

Our beekeeper continues to manage the hives during different seasons including winter, when adequate food stores are needed for the honeybees.