Northern Ireland Electricity (NIE) Networks has 1,200 employees based in 15 locations across Northern Ireland.
More than half of these employees are working in the local environment every day building or repairing its network, surveying overhead lines or planning for new connections. This can involve working on other people’s land. As such, the company is committed to minimising its environmental impact.
Part of this commitment is to ensure that its employees are able to identify wildlife and better understand the environment they come in contact with daily.
What NIE Networks did
In 2019, the company rolled out a major education process with its employees and contractors, making the safeguarding of wildlife a priority and ensuring its work has minimal impact on the local landscape and natural habitats.
NIE Networks collaborated with Ulster Wildlife to develop a bespoke Wildlife Aware Guide and associated training programme for its employees. In addition, the company organised a tailored ‘Biodiversity Walk & Talk’ training session for its patrol and survey employees with wildlife experts. The session was designed to help them protect and identify wildlife and to better understand the environment they come in contact with daily.
As well as identifying and protecting biodiversity, NIE Networks has also established a biodiversity information-sharing relationship with the Centre of Environmental Data & Recording.
This two-way agreement helps NIE Networks, and other utilities and organisations who use these maps, to maintain accurate mapping systems with the location of biodiversity. The company shares detailed and unique information from environmental impact assessments carried out as part of its work. As NIE Networks surveys long, narrow corridors of land (sometimes up to 30 kilometres) for overhead line planning, this provides a unique snapshot of biodiversity information.
Impacts and Outcomes
- First company in Northern Ireland to gain an Ulster Wildlife ‘Wildlife Aware’ accreditation for the efforts to improve staff awareness of biodiversity
- Delivery of a ‘Wildlife Aware’ guide and training for the company’s 1,200 employees
- Specific ‘Walk & Talk’ training to identify signs of wildlife for critical patrol and survey employees
- The identification of a nesting Barn Owl nesting site, which our employees had identified and shared. The Barn Owl is one of Northern Ireland’s priority species with only four other nests identified previously