The power of nature revealed by AES

Northern Ireland’s largest electricity generator, AES UK & Ireland, is celebrating a summer of success for its award-winning biodiversity programme, with a new secondary school environmental leadership curriculum rolling out across schools in Mid and East Antrim.

Biodiversity is at the heart of the company’s corporate social responsibility programme, and the sites of two of Northern Ireland’s largest power stations have become an unexpected haven for wildlife. Following the discovery of a rare bee orchid more than 12 years ago, AES now boasts over 350 different plants and animals at its Ballylumford and Kilroot sites in County Antrim, including over 70 protected or priority species such as cowslips, black guillemots, Irish hares, and common seals. In recognition of its commitment to biodiversity, AES was recently awarded the prestigious Business in the Community ‘Business and Biodiversity Charter’ at Platinum Level.

AES has been working closely with Ulster Wildlife to audit the species and habitats on its sites, culminating in the publication of a five-year action plan to undertake a range of positive steps to protect and enhance biodiversity on their land for the next generation. This includes managing and creating species-rich grasslands, planting trees and hedges, undertaking beach cleans, controlling invasive species and engaging their employees and wider community in conservation and awareness activities.

AES’s activities reach beyond their sites into the local communities through established primary schools environment and energy workshops, ‘The Power of Nature’. Following demand from schools, a new secondary school STEM programme has been developed in consultation with pupils. The AES Environmental Leadership Programme encourages teenagers to consider a STEM career by shining a light on the environmental jobs available in the local area.

After 25 years of energy production in Northern Ireland, AES is confident its positive contribution to biodiversity shall continue in Mid and East Antrim for the next generation, as the company plans further investment to allow the existing plants to continue operation well beyond 2020.

Ian Luney, President of AES UK & Ireland, says: “We’re confident that our planned investments will enable Kilroot to comply with environmental requirements beyond June 2020. Innovative technological solutions should allow AES to continue to support security of supply out to 2024 with existing and new assets. We believe that maximising Kilroot’s availability in the medium-term is the best way to deliver affordable, sustainable electricity for Northern Ireland, as well as retaining hundreds of jobs in Mid and East Antrim.”

As a demonstration of AES’s overarching commitment to aspirational environmental targets, this summer the company signed a Prosperity Agreement with the Northern Ireland Environmental Agency (NIEA). Prosperity Agreements are voluntary agreements that contain commitments from both NIEA and the company, which will deliver significant environmental benefits, going beyond legal requirements to develop a more strategic approach between business and regulator, and to help businesses realise environmental gains which will increase their competitiveness. Under the Agreement, over the next five years AES will deliver benefits including reduced carbon emissions, improved biodiversity on site, and the next phase of battery energy storage on our sites.

E: uki.communication@aes.com

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