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Building a Business for Biodiversity

Geoff Hamilton, Sustainability Project Manager, gives an insight into how ESB is managing its activities to avoid significant impact on habitats and why we are one of the first participants in the new Business for Biodiversity initiative.  

Can you tell us about your role? 

I lead the delivery of sustainability aspects included in the Networks for Net Zero Strategy, managed by the ESB Networks Environmental Team. We are currently finalising ESB Networks’ first Biodiversity Strategy, comprising both high-level and practical actions which are readily implementable and scalable. These measures will relate to both operational infrastructure and future projects and will include consideration of tools and metrics whereby biodiversity action can be assessed and monitored. 

What is ESB’s approach to biodiversity? 

ESB has made significant strides towards ensuring biodiversity is embodied in its strategies and operations.  

We have environmental specialists across our respective business units, including ecologists involved throughout all stages of projects, ensuring biodiversity is considered throughout their design, development and operation.  

The preparation of business unit-specific strategies regarding biodiversity is currently underway whereby procedures and associated project designs will be informed by best practice and through utilising the expertise of our subject matter experts. 

Tell us about some of the projects being undertaken? 

As a partner of the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan, we have committed to introducing pollinator-friendly management of landscapes within our property portfolio, fitting in with the needs of safety, business operations and property management. ESB Networks are actively trialing alternative site management approaches for live and retired assets, aimed at protecting and enhancing local biodiversity. 

We also contribute to the Nature+Energy research project, which aims to develop new ways of accounting for the value of nature on wind farms, by utilising novel environmental monitoring systems. The project aims to deliver sector-specific Natural Capital Accounting, Land-Management Decision Support Tools and Biodiversity Action Plans to facilitate the enhancement of biodiversity and to mitigate against the effects of wind farms on key species. 

Regarding offshore renewables projects, ESB carries out digital aerial surveys  to ensure we capture the highest quality baseline data for birds and marine mammals to inform our impact assessments and monitoring. We are currently researching biodiversity enhancing materials for construction of our offshore wind projects. 

Recently we funded a Marine Mammal Observer training programme for students who are studying or working in the area of marine science or related disciplines. This initiative is critical to ensure future capacity within this ecological specialism 

Five people standing in a row beside a marketing pull up with three of the people holding signs.

From left to right, Geoff Hamilton, Sustainability Project Manager with members of the Business for Biodiversity team at the launch event. 

Why did ESB join Business for Biodiversity? 

ESB is deeply cognisant of the need for biodiversity action to be a ‘Whole of Government, Whole of Society’ approach, which forms the core principle of the Fourth National Biodiversity Action Plan. The Government-backed national platform helps Irish businesses transition towards a ‘nature positive’ way of working, where they can actively seek to support nature restoration.  

Members can access guidance documents, which will be aligned to prevailing frameworks and reporting directives, along with short thematic videos, case studies from Irish businesses, a calendar of related events and a quarterly forum where the community can gather to exchange knowledge, share challenges and work together to progress on their journey.


What benefits will this bring to the organisation, and wider industry? 

Joining Business for Biodiversity is providing us with opportunities to discuss and debate best practice with other Irish companies who are also on the journey to becoming nature positive. It is facilitating access to subject matter experts, allowing us to understand the needs and demands of other business sectors and helping us to focus on our own efforts around Assessing, Committing, Transforming and Disclosing our impacts and dependencies on nature.  

For more information on Business for Biodiversity, please click here.