Here at Yorkshire Water, we're striving to improve the biodiversity of the Yorkshire landscape.
Whether it's through catchment management, improved river water quality or tackling pollution, find out what our plan is for making sure that a thriving diverse environment is at the heart of our business.
Biodiversity simply means the number of species occurring in one place.
In general, high biodiversity indicates that an area has been undisturbed for a long time, that it efficiently recycles water, oxygen and carbon and contains a thriving community of species.
Why is it important to us?
Being the largest land owner in Yorkshire, we undoubtedly have a responsibility to protect and enhance the biodiversity of our land for future generations. Here is an indication of how vast and varied the Yorkshire landscape is and indeed the scale of our responsibilities:
• 12,000 hectares are designated as Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) which includes 17 nature reserves and our flagship site at Tophill Low near Driffield;
• Our region contains 35 UK priority habitats of national or international importance for conservation - this consists of the largest area of lowland raised peat in England, 52% of the UK's limestone pavement and 28% of the UK's upland heathland;
• Current and historical records are also held for 173 species of national conservation importance.
What are we doing about it?
We’ve implemented a biodiversity strategy and have a biodiversity action plan which will enable us to prioritise and report our activities in this area effectively.
Yorkshire Water puts down roots in Sheffield
One year on from an extensive planting scheme to develop biodiversity in the Lea Brook area of Dronfield, a further 50 trees are being planted in the New Year.
Our Biodiversity Strategy outlines the drivers for action and our commitment to preserving and enhancing biodiversity in order to protect our raw water resources and natural heritage. Our key business environmental commitments are :-
- To take responsibility for the water environment for good.
- To have excellent catchments rivers and coasts by:-
Catchment Management - managing our land and catchments in a socially and environmentally responsible manner, balancing the needs of our customers and tenants with our duty as custodian of the natural environment
Improving River Water Quality – improving our water treatment processes and dealing with any issues we have will improve the quality of the waste water we discharge in to rivers and the sea and in-turn improve the water in our rivers
Tackling Pollution - reducing and preventing pollution through innovative technology, effective management control systems and through targeted efficient investment
Proactively conserve and enhance biodiversity through efficient and effective practices and the implementation of our Biodiversity Action Plan
With a clear understanding of what our targets are from the biodiversity strategy, we’ve then prepared a clear action plan around how we are going to deliver on all these promises. With achievable yet ambitious targets set each year, you can track what work we’ve been undertaking and follow the improvements we’re making each and every month.
Invasive Non-native species (INNS) are one of the biggest environmental threats worldwide and have an economic, social and environmental impact through amongst other things, exacerbating flooding, harming human health, reducing biodiversity and damaging buildings. They have a potential to impact on our ability to provide safe drinking water and return waste water safely to the environment, and as a company we are seeking to address this risk.
We're investing in our waste water treatment works to help increase the biodiversity and create more natural river environments so a wider variety of fish and wildlife can thrive.
We are responsible for collecting, treating and returning about 1 billion litres of waste water safely back to the environment every day. We have delivered a step change in river water quality over the last 20 years by investing to enhance waste water treatment and capabilities and therefore the quality of the water we discharge in to rivers. We recognise that more needs to be done and we continue to focus on driving further improvement as part of our commitment to ‘taking care of the water environment for good'.
Find out how we're continuing to improve river water quality and read some of our case studies here.
Yorkshire Water has 54,000 km of sewer pipes and through this network of pipes it removes one billion litres of waste water per day from homes and businesses across the Yorkshire region. Problems on the network such as blockages, customer misuse, pipe collapses and too much surface water (surface water can occur after heavy rainfall where the sewer network backs-up) can reduce our ability to take customer waste water away effectively causing pollution or flooding to occur. In our case, pollution happens when sewage escapes from the sewer when the sewer is put under pressure, this can pollute people’s gardens, public areas such as roads or parks and, in worst cases, it can happen inside people’s homes when the network backs up
The total number of pollution incidents from our sewer network has continued to reduce over recent years, from 95.10 incidents per 10,000km of sewer in 2011, to 82.68 in 2012, and 78.10 last year (2013). The number of the most serious pollution incidents (Category 1 and 2) has fluctuated in recent years but shows an overall trend of improvement. Performance has fallen from 4.25 incidents per 10,000km of sewer in 2011, to our best ever performance in 2012 with 1.63 incidents per 10,000km of sewer, increasing to 3.27 in 2013.
Our improving performance can be attributed to our Pollution Reduction Plan, which will continue to run throughout 2014/15. Our plan includes a range of people, process, technology and capital investment activities. In 2014 we will be trialling a new proactive intervention technique using weather trigger levels. We know that dry spells cause blockages that can lead to pollution incidents so we will jet at hot spot locations after a set number of consecutive dry days to break up and remove sewer litter before it becomes a problem.
We have worked with the Environment Agency to model the impact of our discharges across the region to understand the ecological implications. Together, we have defined a programme of environmental investment and investigation needs, totalling over £300m for the period from 2015 to 2020. We will further enhance our waste water treatment capabilities where we have confirmed biological and/or chemical issues that need to meet legislative standards. Where there is uncertainty, we will be carrying out investigations to inform our long-term approach.
Case study at Blackburn Meadows WWTW
We’re making £78 million worth of improvements at our Blackburn Meadows site. This is one of Yorkshire's largest treatment works and serves a population of over 800,000 people from across Sheffield.
Almost £15 million of this investment has gone towards improvements to the storm overflow system. These tanks essentially store excess waste water during these events, preventing sewage and run off from the roads entering the river.