Welsh Water launches annual Biodiversity Report

22 February 2023

Welsh Water has published its annual Biodiversity Report which showcases the array of schemes it has delivered over the past few years to enhance and protect the natural environment.

The report, ‘Doing the Right Thing for Nature’, outlines the steps taken by Welsh Water in its commitments for achieving its vision and mission set out in its biodiversity strategy. It aims to maintain and enhance biodiversity within the fulfilment of its functions for the wellbeing of current and future generations.

The biodiversity report focuses on 30 overarching commitments from its Biodiversity ‘Making time for Nature 2020’ plan. It highlights the progress made so far by Welsh Water to protect and promote the resilience of ecosystems across all areas of the business, including new project developments, its landholdings, and operational assets.

Introducing the report was Welsh Water’s Director of Environment, Tony Harrington who leads the Environmental, Innovation, and Science agendas for the business with the objectives of providing a safe and sustainable environment for Welsh Water customers and future generations.

Tony said, "It is great to see the passion and commitment of colleagues and partners alike in helping us to conserve, protect and enhance the natural environment. We have made solid progress to both improve our environment, and to encourage, educate and support those with a passion for making a difference."

“It remains essential for the whole water and environmental sector to work together in partnership, each playing their role so we can effectively deliver the changes that society demands and that will be needed if we are to hand to the next generations a natural environment in which they can thrive."

"Such partnerships involve a multitude of organisations, including government, regulators, environmental NGOs, industry and of course customers. The work will take investment, which will need to be funded and supported by everyone."

The virtual launch was attended by a cross section of stakeholders including environmental organisations, regulators, charity sectors, local councillors, community councils and community groups from across Wales and Hereford.

Welsh Water’s Biodiversity Advisor, Gemma Williams presented the report highlighting progress on the 30 commitments, of which 21 have been completed, and 9 are ongoing.

Gemma said, "This report is of interest to several audiences, including our regulators, to show how Welsh Water is meeting its strengthened duty under the Environment (Wales) Act 2016. It also benefits the organisations who are looking to work in partnership with Welsh Water in the delivery of biodiversity initiatives, and our colleagues at Welsh Water who are keen to learn how we can make time for nature, supporting biodiversity as we go about our daily work."

"We look forward to understanding in greater detail what our customers’ expectations are for biodiversity, ecology as well as sustainability and the climate change emerging risk which will all help Welsh Water’s forward planning."

The report focuses on the company’s investment and engagement projects on invasive Non-Native Species, working partnerships and innovation. One example is the work to clear unmanaged and neglected woodland at Gwern-y-Bendy woods and part of Rhyd-y-Penau complex which sits within the Lisvane and Llanishen Reservoirs site. Cherry Laurel, a non-native species was removed, and preparation made to create a learning zone and forest school on site.

Welsh Water has also installed innovative ‘Agri Sound’ equipment at its Llys-y-Fran reservoir site in west Wales and Cog Moors wastewater treatment works in the Vale of Glamorgan. The equipment monitors the presence of pollinators as well as captures data on temperature, humidity, luminosity, and acoustics. The data captured will provide the necessary information to to establish the benefits of enhancement work for pollinator activity.

One of the projects in the report has already won the Committee Award from the Welsh area Institute of Water Innovation Awards. It was awarded to Welsh Water’s Conservation Advisor, Chloe White for developing Biodiversity Care Packages. The project idea was to promote a greater understanding of biodiversity with colleagues across Welsh Water’s operational areas, giving them guidance to site managers on how they could promote biodiversity on their areas.

By raising awareness, prompting ownership, and centralising purchases of resources, twenty sites have seen an enhancement in biodiversity efforts with 30kgs of native wildflower seed sown, 40 bat boxes, two bug hotels,65 bird boxes of varying sizes and 200 native bluebell and daffodil bulbs planted.

The report also includes information on Welsh Water’s contribution to the multi-million pound Four Rivers for Life project which has a multi-stakeholder approach to improve river habitats and conditions for migratory fish as well as collaborating with farmers to protect river corridors and reduce sediments and nutrients from entering rivers. This will have the added benefit of safeguarding important drinking water supplies.

The biodiversity report launched this week also coincided with the publication of Welsh Water’s long-term plans to help protect Special Areas of Conservation Rivers. Welsh Water is committed to building on their efforts and has set out in its Welsh Water 2050 mission to support the delivery of the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales (Act 2015) which aims to improve the social economic, environmental, and cultural well-being of Wales.

In early 2022 a new biodiversity strategy was published, setting out Welsh Water’s ambitions, aims and objectives to enable the business to continue delivering its core functions whilst supporting environmental regulators, Natural Resources Wales, and Welsh Government to address the biodiversity crisis.

Following on from the report launch, Welsh Water will hold biodiversity workshops so that stakeholders can contribute ideas for its forward-looking Biodiversity Action Plan to be published in December 2023.

Download the Biodiversity Report here or listen to what Welsh Water’s expert panel and stakeholders had to say about the report.