05 Jul 2023

Net zero North West

How important environmental plans are to reaching net zero targets

Ben Scott, Environment Manger at Electricity North West, discusses how central environmental plans and sustainability are to reaching net zero targets and protecting the natural environment of the North West region.

Tree planting in Westhoughton

What is the ‘Environmental action plan’ and what does it aim to achieve?

As part of our drive to be more sustainable, Electricity North West has committed to an environmental strategy that will help us reach our aim of becoming a net zero organisation by 2038. Key to this is increasing our environmental performance and enhancement of the North West’s amazingly diverse environment and its communities.

We have developed a plan that sets out our environmental and sustainability commitments from 2023 to 2028 with 21 goals that focus on a range of targets ranging from our ambitions around net zero to reducing the resources we consume as a business and how we improve biodiversity across our network.  This sits within our overall business plan which outlines our investment of £2bn in the next five years, to keep power flowing and enable the North West to reach its 2038 net zero target.

As the region’s electricity distribution network operator (DNO), we have a vital, strategic role to play in decarbonising and protecting the North West’s natural environment. To support our strategy we have set a Science Based Target to help our customers and stakeholders understand how we will go about our ambitious net zero targets, as part of that process we regularly engage with experts from across the country through our advisory panels.

Enhancing the natural environment is a key component of our strategy and we have developed a biodiversity action plan, led by Richard Mosson, to help increase the biodiversity of the land we manage in the North West. This builds on the ambitions of the Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan where we all work to leave the environment in a better state than we found it.

How is Electricity North West protecting biodiversity?

Our operational maintenance activities have the potential to impact on the beautiful and valued natural environment of the North West. To mitigate this, we have made a commitment to protect and enhance biodiversity within our region. This is also central to our corporate responsibility framework.

We have adopted a two-tiered approach to protect and enhance wildlife that may be affected by our activities. Firstly, we have pledged to achieve significant and meaningful biodiversity targets by 2028 including:

  • The planting of 50, 000 trees either within our ‘estate’ or by support delivered to community forest schemes within the North West
  • Enhanced conservation management to uplift and create a biodiversity net gain within 100 sites that we own

Secondly, we produce and review annually, a plan that sets out how we will support the practical delivery of the above goals and establishes how we will further embed biodiversity via:

  • Training and awareness for colleagues
  • Policies and process
  • External partnerships and processes
  • Impact monitoring

An example of this is the work we do with City of Trees and Cumbria Coastal Community Forest to support the delivery of tree planting targets. We also sit as an active contributing member of the ‘Green Northern Connections’ programme within the Nature North partnership. Finally, our substation grounds maintenance teams carry out habitat management work to practically uplift the biodiversity on each of the 100 sites.