Ambitious commitments to deliver greater environmental sustainability and biodiversity for Western Power Distribution customers in Wales have been unveiled.

The company distributes electricity across the region and as part of its £6.7billion business plan for 2023-28 is leading a drive towards a net zero carbon future as fast as possible.

Targets include improving network reliability, enabling more customers to connect electric vehicles and heat pumps, and cutting the company’s own carbon emissions to zero – all while keeping Western Power’s portion of the energy bill broadly flat.

One specific commitment the company has made to regulator Ofgem is to improve biodiversity to redress a historic decline in native species.

It wants to achieve a 10% net gain in plant, insect and animal life at major new project sites and for selected primary and grid substation sites.

Improving biodiversity will enable Western Power to have a positive impact on its surroundings and will benefit customers by enhancing community wellbeing and overall air quality.

Western Power’s Andy Martyr-Icke said: “As a company we understand we have a major part to play in environmental sustainability.

“Our future plans are not just about minimising the environmental impact of our operations but also having a positive effect and achieving a net gain in biodiversity at our major sites.

“Electricity substations, for example, have historically been deserts for nature because of the justifiable need to protect equipment and assets.

“But we are looking to be more creative, such as using wild grasses and shrubs that are attractive to pollinators, rather than gravel or concrete.

“Nothing is off the table and there’s nothing we shouldn’t consider.

“We will need to work with design and engineering colleagues to make sure the safety and efficiency of our network is unaffected while increasing biodiversity efforts.”

Western Power’s environment team will also be working with external partners such as wildlife trusts, as well as ecologists and other specialists, to develop best practice to boost flora and fauna.

Metrics developed by Defra will be used at Western Power sites to assess progress and measure environmental impact.

By 2028, all major new infrastructure projects and new connections will have a biodiversity enhancement plan.

This will include an assessment of the direct or indirect impact any work has on the landscape and will target species and habitats identified as at risk.

This will lead to improved biodiversity, a healthier, more stable and sustainable ecosystem, a cleaner environment, less disruption for cable repairs and clean-up operations and reduced carbon emissions.

The company’s commitment to biodiversity includes working closely with Natural England when the company is operating at Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) to ensure there’s no adverse effect.

“It’s a hugely exciting time,” added Mr Martyr-Icke. “When it comes to biodiversity, we need to completely rethink everything we do and how we do it.”

For more information about Western Power’s business plan commitments, visit westernpower.co.uk/businessplan