We recognise our responsibility to conserve and enhance wildlife and heritage on our land.
Under the Water Industry Act 1991, we have conservation, access and recreation duties to:
conserve and enhance wildlife, geology and archaeology
maintain public access to places of natural beauty
make water and land available for recreational purposes.
Our conservation, access and recreation work helps us to meet our goal of having a landholding where biodiversity can thrive and visitors have access and to the natural environment.
We own hundreds of sites and landholdings across our region, ranging from pumping stations and large treatment works to reservoirs, lakes and nature reserves.
Our region is incredibly rich in wildlife, with many nationally and internationally protected species and habitats also found on our land.
We aim to ensure our land is well-managed to support wildlife, while also ensuring there is public access to our facilities where necessary.
Our landholding consists of many different habitats including:
chalk grassland sites in Wiltshire
heathland habitat in Dorset
open water, marsh and fen within Somerset
ancient woodland around Bath.
We are continually working to maintain these sites, some of which have the very highest levels of protection under UK and European law due to the quality of habitat.
These include nearly 300 hectares of land designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).
Our aims and strategy
As reflected in our biodiversity action plan, our goal is to conserve and enhance our land to improve biodiversity for the benefit of wildlife. We aim to have a landholding which is rich in wildlife and contributes to the wider region’s biodiversity, while also working to halt or reverse the loss of our land.
To achieve our aims, we continue to manage our land in a way that maintains its current level of habitats and diversity, ensuring that good condition is maintained, while also looking for opportunities to extend, enhance or restore habitat where possible.
We will also ensure that our land contributes to landscape-scale habitat diversity and connectivity, promoting ecological networks beyond our land where appropriate.
It is also important to us that our sites contribute positively to the local environment in both rural and urban areas.
How we’re enhancing our land
We are enhancing our land by:
managing our SSSI landholding to achieve and maintain favourable conditions in compliance with national targets
carrying out projects to include detailed surveys and targeted management on key sites for wildlife and public enjoyment
assessing all land for biodiversity value, including the presence of protected and priority habitats and species
managing sites with protected or priority habitats and species appropriately to minimise impacts on wildlife and operational processes
working to remove invasive non-native species from our sites or prevent their spread
developing a comprehensive dataset on biodiversity and management, including GIS maps
looking for opportunities to improve, enhance or extend habitats of intrinsic value or for protected species
improving access to appropriate sites and interpretation of their wildlife interest
delivering internal training on conservation management and the legal issues regarding working with wildlife
investigating options for tree planting or other beneficial conservation management to improve urban sites, both for wildlife and the community.
Conservation, Access and Recreation Report
Making a real difference
This report summarises some of the progress we have made towards meeting our long-term conservation, access and recreation goals during 2020-21.