Visit to Aberthaw Power Staion
Aberthaw Power Station is both a major contributor to the energy economy of South Wales and a home to many rare species of wildlife in the diverse habitats that surround it. The 1,500MW coal-fired power station is one of 8 within the generating portfolio of npower, part of RWE npower. Located on the north bank of the Bristol Channel, near Barry, Aberthaw has around 115ha of land that has been left virtually
undisturbed since the station became fully operational over 30 years ago. It includes a site of special scientific interest along the shore.
To conserve and enhance the unusual biodiversity of the site, npower has been working inpartnership with the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales to formulate a management plan that fits within the Vale of Glamorgan Local Biodiversity Action Plan (LBAP); a strategy for wildlife conservation across the Vale area.
Biodiversity is important; it is the natural richness of life on earth, encompassing all species of plants and animals – not just those which are rare or threatened – from microbes to man. However, it is under pressure from human activity throughout the world. Conserving biodiversity brings benefits to businesses, the economy and everyone’s quality of life: helping to maintain natural resources and a stable environment.
npower is committed to integrating the principles of sustainable development into our business and operating in an environmentally and socially responsible manner. We believe that taking action for biodiversity will not only contribute to improved economic performance but also help deliver the objectives of the Government’s sustainable development strategy.
The development of the unique habitat mix at Aberthaw The site of Aberthaw Power Station was for centuries a busy trading port. At the mouth of the River Thaw, the port provided tidal docking facilities and flourished until the mid-19th century. By 1900 silting of the river was so bad that shipping was restricted to a few small vessels.
In 1952 Aberthaw was chosen as the most suitable site to build a new power station in
response to the growing demand for electricity among industrial and domestic users in South Wales. Four years later, it was decided to canalise the river through the marshes, enabling greater potential for land use. A concrete wall was also constructed behind the beaches to improve the sea defences, creating a saline lagoon from what was previously the port basin.
Pulverised fuel ash (PFA) from the power station has been mounded on a designated landfill area on the site, developing an unusual habitat where many species of orchid can now be found. It also continues to be a valuable breeding ground for skylarks.
Aberthaw’s Biodiversity Action
Our biodiversity action – developed in partnership with the Wildlife Trust – aims to conserve and enhance the biodiversity at Aberthaw through a programme of surveying, target setting, active management and monitoring.
The first stage involved detailed site survey work to record the biodiversity of the site. Habitats and species were then prioritised in the context of national and local plans; a number of the habitats and species also form part of the Vale of Glamorgan LBAP. Management schedules were drawn up and now provide a framework to set targets against which we can measure progress.
These targets are integrated into the station’s Environmental Management System and reviewed on a regular basis.
Many of the activities are undertaken by the local community and members of our staff who are keen to be actively involved in the conservation of biodiversity on their door-step and in turn make their contribution to conserving the UK’s biodiversity.
Caring for the community and the environment
Through links maintained with local authorities, conservation groups and educational establishments, Aberthaw power station plays an active role in the neighbouring community.
It supports local educational initiatives, environmental projects and also encourages visits to the site from schools and other groups from South Wales. By extensive monitoring of site noise levels, emissions to the air and discharges of cooling water into the sea, Aberthaw meets its legal environmental obligations set by the Environment Agency.
The environmental record of Aberthaw is open to public scrutiny through the publication of an independentlyverified, annual Environmental Performance Review. Salt marshes on the Aberthaw site are home to a wide variety of wildlife including the Coastal Ladybird and Cranefly. The power station site provides a secure environment for these species to flourish in harmony with a large industrial complex.