Rare visitor sets up home at London Stansted and helps secure top international award
A little-known corner of London Stansted may not be the first place you think of as home to endangered species but the airport’s newly created 2.5 acre habitat creation area is just that for a family of protected great crested newts.
The area has been designed to provide a secluded and protected habitat for animals, insects and plants to thrive. It has four large ponds, rich grassland and a small area of woodland near to the runway on the north-side of the airport. The ponds have been carefully contoured to encourage newts and rare plants but are covered by netting to discourage birds from the airfield.
The project has already received international recognition by winning a Green Apple Environment Award which will be presented to the team at the Houses of Parliament next month. It’s the team’s second Green Apple prize, the first was awarded last year for the airport’s donation of over 15 tonnes of food and toiletries to local foodbanks.
This area of the airport has long been underused so what better to allow it to return it to nature. We started the work to transform the area last year and I’m delighted to say that wildlife has already started moving in, including our first family of newts which was confirmed recently following a visit to the site by the Essex Wildlife Trust.
This type of initiative is all part of our commitment to reducing the effects of our operation on wildlife habitats and species in and around the airport, setting ourselves a target of zero net loss in biodiversity. We haven’t developed this area because we have to, we’ve done it because we strongly believe it’s the right thing to do.
The airport, which became carbon neutral in 2017, recognises that strong environmental management is essential for its vision for growth. It is already accredited to environmental standard ISO14001 and was the first airport to be accredited to the energy management standard, ISO150001. In March this year it handed out more than 3000 silver birch saplings to staff, local schools and parish councils as part of Biodiversity Week.
The aim of Biodiversity Week was to highlight all the good work the business is doing to maintain and improve our biodiversity across the airport site. We wanted to get staff engaged in our work and following the huge uptake of the 2000 free reusable cups we handed to staff last year we wanted to be even more ambitious with our tree giveaway.
The airport’s other environmental initiatives include all its waste being recycled with zero going to landfill, 100% of its electricity coming from renewable sources since it was acquired by MAG and surrendered items such as food, toiletries and toys which can’t be taken through security being sent to local foodbanks. It also has a higher proportion (53%) of passengers using public transport percentage than any other UK airport while all staff get an 80% reduction in the cost of public transport with 33% of them using public transport for work journeys.