Biodiversity improvements at rare upland heath planned for Banks Renewables wind farm site

  • Jul 23, 2021
  • Banks Group

A rare area of upland heathland close to a South Yorkshire wind farm is set to be significantly enhanced after a long-term habitat management plan was agreed between a development firm and a global utility.

The work is part of National Grid’s Going Underground project in the Peak District, located around a mile south west of the Hazlehead site, which is set to transform the landscape around Dunford Bridge and along the Trans Pennine Trail by removing seven pylons and 1.5km of overhead electricity line and replacing them with underground cables.

National Grid and Banks Property, the property development arm of The Banks Group, have agreed to enter into a 25-year agreement to look after and improve a 13.5 hectare area of land to the south east of Banks Renewables’ three-turbine Hazlehead wind farm, which sits to the west of Barnsley between the villages of Crow Edge and Carlecotes.

The project is designed to protect the indigenous flora and fauna on the heath, increase biodiversity, control incursions by non-native species such as rhododendron and limit any developing, self-seeded tree cover that might impact on the grassland.

Work on the public footpath that runs through the site will be one of the first tasks to be undertaken later this year, to help encourage walkers to stick to the available routes through the site and allow the surrounding habitats and the species that live in them to remain undisturbed.

The Hazlehead Wind Farm, which is owned and operated by the Banks Group’s renewable energy division, Banks Renewables, generated around 19,200MW of green electricity during the company’s most recent financial year, which is enough to meet the annual energy requirements of more than 6,100 homes.

By doing so, it also displaced over 62,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide from the electricity supply network during the 12-month period.

Around £150,000 of the revenue generated by the wind farm will also be directed into its community benefits fund over its operational lifespan, and will provide grant support for community groups, voluntary organisations and environmental projects to help ensure the wind farm delivers a positive long-term impact on the local area.

Robert Ormrod, senior land manager at The Banks Group, says: “The Hazlehead wind farm already delivers significant environmental benefits through the low carbon electricity it generates and this agreement means that the site can provide even more longer term ecological improvements.

“We have been impressed that National Grid is already delivering environmental net gains on its projects in advance of the government’s Environmental Bill becoming law.

Emma Bennett, external affairs officer at National Grid, adds: “Our Going Underground project will make a huge difference to the skyline in this corner of the classic Dark Peak landscape. The visual improvements and upgrades to the car park in Dunford Bridge together with the significant enhancements being made to biodiversity will all contribute to turning this area into a wonderful eastern gateway to the National Park.”

Banks Renewables is one of the leading independent owner/operators in the UK’s onshore wind sector and currently operates ten wind farms with an installed capacity of 224MW.

These include three further wind farms in Yorkshire – the six-turbine Penny Hill wind farm near Rotherham, the four-turbine Marr scheme to the west of Doncaster and the five-turbine Hook Moor wind farm to the east of Leeds.