'UK solar farms can be wildlife havens'

May 24, 2023 10:43 AM ET
  • SEUK's report notes presence of declining species of birds as well as insects across several sites surveyed

The first outcomes of a nationwide survey of wildlife on solar farms has actually located they are home to lots of declining species-- with a lot of seen on those especially managed for preservation.

Insects living around ground-mounted solar panels can also benefit neighbouring agriculture by enhancing the variety of available pollinators, the report ends.

Linnets, a bird on the UK's red listing of conservation concern, were located across more than half of the 37 solar farms in the initial survey last year.

Varieties of the little finch species, understood for its gorgeous track, have dropped dramatically because the 1960s, believed to be linked to the augmentation of agriculture.

Yellowhammers and also skylarks, which have the exact same status, were also located on around half of the sites reported in Solar Energy UK's Solar Habitat: Ecological trends on solar farms in the UK.

Grey wagtails, whitethroats, wrens and willow warblers, all amber detailed by the British Trust for Ornithology, were also among the birds kept in mind by ecologists last year.

Surveys were embarked on using the standard method to ecological surveillance laid out by Solar Energy UK last year.

The report was generated with Lancaster University as well as working as a consultants Clarkson & Woods as well as Wychwood Biodiversity.

"It is really clear that solar farms can be wildlife havens," said Hollie Blaydes, the PhD pupil that led the research.

"Regarding fifty percent of the solar farms surveyed are managed with preservation particularly in mind, such as limiting grazing to only particular times of the year as well as decreasing herbicide use.

"It's on these where wildlife can truly thrive and also gain from the habitats produced.

"These findings and also the net gain regime might assist tilt the market further in the direction of boosting biodiversity," she included.

Skylarks were listened to vocal singing above the panels on half of the sites-- a sign of breeding activity close by.

Although none of their nests have actually been observed on solar farms to date, perhaps as a result of the species' requirement for unbroken sightlines on the ground, it is possible that grassland around the panels might provide a valuable nursery habitat.

One of the most experienced mammals were brown hares, on a quarter of the sites surveyed. "It appears that solar farms offer optimal habitats for this declining species of conservation concern," claimed the report.

Nine of the sites were home to the tiny heath butterfly, a species of principal significance under the Natural Environment and also Rural Communities Act 2006 that has actually declined lately.

The even more widespread yet declining cinnabar moth, a species of conservation concern, was recorded on seven sites.

The report takes into consideration why some solar farms are a lot more biodiverse than others, finding that the diversity and number of invertebrates were strongly related to management being extra focused on wildlife.

Almost all sites (94%) had some preservation measures, graded 2-3 on a 1-5 scale, where one is optimal.

"This report confirms what we have known anecdotally for many years: properly designed as well as well-managed solar farms can aid resolve the environment emergency and loss of biodiversity in the UK," claimed Rachel Hayes, Consents as well as ESG Policy Manager at Solar Energy UK.

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