The RSPB has secured a finance deal to help install renewable energy projects across its nature reserves.
The conservation charity has secured a loan of £710,000 from Triodos Bank to support the installation of over 700 solar panels at seven nature reserves, including Minsmere, The Lodge and Bempton Cliffs.
They say this expected to provide up to 80% of the sites’ annual energy requirements, saving the RSPB a ‘significant’ sum on its energy bill, as well as providing income from selling energy back to the grid.
The charity says the solar panel installations have been carefully located to avoid impacts on nature and planning process assessments have been carried out to ensure there are no impacts on specially protected species.
Some panels are roof mounted on reserve buildings, others on car park canopies. The panels at Minsmere are ground mounted on a bank beside the car park; the shelter they provide is likely to attract the rare antlion to dig small pits in the ground under the panels to trap prey. The charity says this has the potential to create one of the largest colonies in England.
The RSPB says the deal will allow more of its charitable donations from the public to go into live conservation projects, while the repayments of the renewable energy projects are paid for by ongoing energy bill savings, plus payments from electricity generation over a 20-year period.
Ruth Davis, Deputy Director – Global Conservation at the RSPB, said: ‘We are all becoming more aware of the growing threat climate disruption poses for people and nature. As an environmental body, we have adopted targets to drive reductions in our carbon footprint, including through energy efficiency and generating energy at our nature reserves.
‘I am delighted that we have been able to achieve this through our developing Conservation Investment Programme, with the support of Triodos and Environmental Finance.’
The RSPB has also used the finance to install a new biomass boiler at Dearne Valley and deploy energy-efficient LED lighting across 10 office locations.
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