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Sowing the seeds for Chelmsford wildlife

24 Nov Sowing the seeds for Chelmsford wildlife

Power workers have been sowing seeds to boost biodiversity and create a hidden wildlife haven in Chelmsford.

In the latest in a series of volunteer days, an eight-strong team from UK Power Networks planted 25 saplings in the run up to National Tree Week (Nov 27-Dec 5), and raked 100 square metres of grassland before sowing a mixture of 18 wildflower seeds.

In future Yellow Rattle will grow on the grassland, which surrounds an electricity substation off the A1016 and is tucked away beside the River Chelmer and Anglia Ruskin University. This semi-parasitic plant will help suppress coarse grasses so that a variety of other wildflowers can thrive, a technique which has already proved successful at other substation sites.

The team of tree cutters, environment experts and communications staff also removed some young oaks to allow other trees to grow, and built hibernacula in the adjacent woodland where a green woodpecker and a fox were spotted on the day.

The work delivered on recommendations by Essex Wildlife Trust. Ecologist Adele Devonshire who surveyed the site in 2020 said: “This site has little plots of undisturbed habitat which make good stepping stones for connecting habitats, which is so important in urban environments. This is a great project by UK Power Networks and it’s exciting to see a company taking such a proactive approach to nature conservation.”

Mark Norman, sustainability manager at UK Power Networks who participated in the work, said: “Taking the time to sow areas of wild flowers has proved a success at some of our other sites, so I’m looking forward to returning to see how this flourishes in future.”

The work is part of a wider effort by UK Power Networks working in the community, to increase wildlife at 100 of its substation sites through its Environmental Action Plan.

This is currently on track to improve more than 130 acres of habitat across London, the East and South East – the equivalent of 100 football pitches. The company’s Donate a Day scheme pays employees to spend two days a year volunteering in the community.