Most people who think of Torness nuclear power station will picture a big grey industrial plant producing enough electricity to power more than two million homes.
However, there is more to this well known landmark than meets the eye.
It has just been awarded the Biodiversity Benchmark by the Wildlife Trusts for all the hard work done to protect and enhance the unique and diverse wildlife around the East Lothian site.
The EDF Energy power station is right next to the Barns Ness Coast, a site of special scientific interest (SSSI), and is teaming with all kinds of special wildlife.
You can regularly see yellow wagtails catching insects in the grass verges of the roads next to the station. In fact the birds even breed here.
Two years ago new nest boxes were occupied by tree sparrows and in the spring there are some very special guests, a pair of peregrine falcons raising their young. During winter the inter-tidal areas of Skateraw Bay attract wading birds like curlews, redshanks and oystercatchers.
It is not just about the birds. There are wildflowers like northern marsh orchids, bird’s-foot-trefoil and knapweed in the grasslands around the station. There are at least 16 species of butterfly to be seen, including the wall brown and small heath species.
Torness nuclear power station director, Paul Winkle is thrilled with the award. He said: “This wildlife survives here thanks to the employees at Torness and with the help of East Lothian Council’s biodiversity team and the countryside ranger service. We work closely together to ensure these fantastic birds and plant life are looked after properly and will be here for people to enjoy for years to come.
“I’d recommend a walk along the Torness walkway which runs between Skateraw Bay and Thorntonloch to see some of this fantastic wildlife. The walkway is part of the John Muir Link footpath.”
Peter Dorans, corporate relations manager for The Wildlife Trusts, added: “I am delighted we are able to recognise the fantastic work that EDF Energy has done at Torness. Wild places and our ability to access them are vital to our wellbeing. This award goes to show with partnerships and careful management wildlife can thrive, even alongside key energy infrastructure.
“Our assessor was particularly impressed with the work that EDF Energy has done with local farmers to enable them to add to the efforts on site. This site completes the set, every EDF Energy Nuclear Power Station has now achieved The Wildlife Trusts Biodiversity Benchmark.
“This is no mean feat, it’s a tough standard so very well done to everyone involved”
EDF Energy’s biodiversity manager Christine Blythe said: “We are pleased with this fantastic award. Torness is home to some special and rare wildlife.
“We are committed to protecting and enhancing biodiversity working in partnership with other conservation organisations and this award recognises our work in fulfilling that commitment.”
The Biodiversity Benchmark enables organisations across the country to assess the standard of their conservation management, improve their environmental management procedures and demonstrate their commitment to enhancing biodiversity in support of the Scottish Biodiversity Strategy. It is composed of a set of detailed requirements which an organisation must be able to meet. All seven of EDF Energy’s nuclear power station sites across the UK have been awarded the Biodiversity Benchmark.