Biodiversity in Ireland ranges from the small insects that improve our soils and pollinate our crops, to larger animals and plants that control our pests and provide carbon sinks and flood protection. All provide essential ecosystem services and are under threat from the influence of human beings.
With a significant national underground infrastructure network, plus over 200 above ground installations (AGIs) and office locations, we recognise our role and responsibility to respond and act to protect and restore Ireland’s biodiversity.
Our ‘Seeds for Nature’ Charter, launched in 2019, includes a number of important commitments; a pledge to manage all of our infrastructure, asset base and office locations (on the island of Ireland and in Scotland) to support, scale up and fast-track the implementation of the National Biodiversity Action Plan.
Biodiversity is a key part of our Sustainability Strategy and in 2020 we developed a biodiversity plan to help deliver on our existing commitments, including actions we need to take to achieve our goals;
- Continue to develop and embed biodiversity measures into our business
- Continue to engage our colleagues and work with the local community on biodiversity initiatives
- Ensure that our contractors deliver on our biodiversity commitments
- Develop biodiversity measurement tools and key performance indicators
- Strive to have a net positive impact on biodiversity in all our operations and infrastructure projects
We continue to be a key business supporter of the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan the plan has five key objectives;
- Making Ireland pollinator friendly
- Raising awareness of pollinators and how to protect them
- Managed pollinators – supporting beekeepers and growers
- Expanding on knowledge of pollinators and pollination services
- Collecting evidence to track change and measure success
We own and manage two beehives at one of our gas stations in Cork and we are now seasonal producers of honey.
In 2020 we continued to promote a range of biodiversity enhancement measures at several our sites including Marino Point AGI in Cork, where our redundant assets were decommissioned and removed from the site. Bug hotels, bird boxes, a swallow barn and hedgehog houses were installed and sections of suitable ground were readied for wildflower planting in Spring 2021. Reduced grass cutting and pesticide use, biodiversity awareness signage and planting of native wildflowers were also implemented at many other sites.
In 2020 we signed up to the Business for Nature Call to Action, a global coalition of businesses committed to reversing nature loss through action and advocacy. We are also now working with Technical University Dublin (TUD) on a collaborative sustainability charter. Separately we are assisting Dublin City Council (DCC) with a green roof research project.
Also in 2020 we continued our anchor sponsorship of the Irish Examiner biodiversity month special in May by promoting a “Gardening for Biodiversity” booklet by Juanita Browne of the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan. The booklet was produced by Laois County Council with the assistance of Local Authority Heritage Officers across Ireland, with support from the National Parks and Wildlife Service and the Heritage Council.
We were delighted to be recognized for our commitment to biodiversity with our enhancement programme being shortlisted in the ‘Excellence in Environment’ category at Chambers Ireland Sustainable Business Impact Awards.
In 2021 we will further develop our Biodiversity Action Plan with specific goals and measurements to be achieved by the organisation, incorporating guidance for changing the way we design, build and operate our sites and assets including environmental criteria for assessing work by our contractors and increasing the delivery of biodiversity enhancements at our sites. We have identified several pilot sites to help us benchmark and develop our biodiversity action plan further in 2021.
Managing for biodiversity
Managing work that has the potential to impact on biodiversity is a key aspect of our approach to environmental management. Our construction and operations activities are screened at the early planning stage to determine whether a Natura Impact and /or Environmental Impact Assessment are required. Biodiversity impacts are considered where existing assets or new assets are planned within proximity to special areas of conservation and designated sites, as set out by national, regional or EU legislation.
We have a duty to protect habitats and species, not just those in designated areas, but in the course of our day to day operations, we have a robust management process to enforce this as part of our Environmental Management System.
Our bespoke Envirokit and EnviroPlan environmental planning and design toolkits assist our designers and planners in applying a standardised approach to Environmental Management including Biodiversity Management. EnviroOps, our in-house environmental guidance document was developed to assist our operations personnel in applying best practice while working for the organisation.
Our distribution and transmission network consist of over 14,172km of pipeline, and is linked to the UK and European gas markets through two interconnector pipelines with Scotland. Our network is mapped via a geographic information system (GIS), which is a framework for gathering, managing, and analysing data. This data includes environmental data including special areas of conservation. Our designers and planners use GIS to assist in carrying our environmental assessments.
Developments and activities are designed and planned to avoid impacting on biodiversity. Where there is a potential of significant impacts on biodiversity, measures are undertaken to avoid and reduce impacts to a minimum. Where an IUCN red list species or species of national conservation concern is identified as being potentially impacted by a project at assessment stage, we carry out several assessments including; ecological impact assessment, environmental impact assessment or appropriate assessment under the Habitats Directive.
Number of Above Ground Installations
Number of offices
Number of Compressor Stations
in Scotland and in ROI
Km of pipeline
We have not impacted habitats such that restoration activities were necessary. In certain operations, for example on construction sites, rehabilitation plans exist as part of our environmental management programme.