The environmental footprint of any project, activity or business should be a vital consideration at the forefront of any plan. As well as defining the project’s Sustainable Development Contribution, at Foresight we believe it is necessary to probe deeper into what we term the localised environmental interactions of the project. This includes the assessment of potential environmental impacts such as: emissions to air, land and water; effects on biodiversity; and noise and light pollution. In addition, we believe it is necessary to analyse the long-term climate resilience of a project, for example in respect of flood risk.
- Life on land: Does the project protect, restore and promote the sustainable use of ecosystems, promote biodiversity and halt and reverse land degradation?
- Species protection/promotion: Has an Environmental Impact Assessment been carried out in respect of the project? What is the project’s impact on native/migrating species to site? Does the project have high rates of species mortality? Does the project promote or support wildlife at the site?
- Feedstock sustainability: Is the feedstock (if applicable) processed by the project in line with the sustainability criteria set out by the associated incentive scheme?
- Waste management: Does the project take steps to minimise waste production and maximise recycling? Does it make a positive contribution to landfill diversion?
- Emissions, effluents and wastes from both normal and abnormal (e.g. accidental) conditions: What are the outputs of the project, and how can any undesired outputs be mitigated or minimised?
Southam Solar Farm
Acquired by Foresight in 2015, Southam is a 10MW solar farm, located in Warwickshire. Solar power is inherently clean and is recognised as one of the cleanest energy generation asset classes, owing to its very low CO2 intensity.
In order to promote awareness and demonstrate the solar farm’s provision of clean energy to the local community, Southam is used as an educational resource for local schools and colleges, recently hosting students from Warwickshire College.
Southam has a remarkable biodiversity zone, managed by Foresight, which has flourished to host a rich diversity of wildlife. The land within the solar compound is conserved to enhance the environment, with special focus on the maintenance of healthy grass and wildflowers, which are encouraged to grow. The Operations and Maintenance (O&M) contractor deploys only light utility vehicles with high flotation tyres to avoid wheel ruts and to minimise damage to the ground and grassland when vehicles travel around the site.
To further encourage the wildlife, Foresight has installed an owl box, 9 bat boxes and 7 bird boxes. A bird foraging meadow is located next to the plant and is regularly seeded with wild bird seed mix, creating a breeding habitat.
There are several beehives on the perimeter of the farm that are monitored and maintained by the grounds staff. Bees are of huge economic importance to the area and are vital for the pollination of many fruit, vegetable and seed crops. Beyond Southam, we have worked with beekeepers across the country and have beehives situated on eight more Solar Farms in the UK.