Looking after the land

30 October 2000

When talking about asset management, few realise that the land upon which a plant is based can also be seen as an asset. Ringhals has preserved the land that surrounds its plant in Sweden in a public relations exercise that keeps the station on good terms with its neighbours.

Ringhals is situated in the midst of a barren landscape, which would once have been dominated by heath and moor. The plant owns about 247 acres of the land that accommodates the industrial estate, and has an agreement with Vattenfall Fastigheter (real estate), a subsidiary of the utility, which manages the surrounding land of 370 acres. Vattenfall bought such a large area in case it needed to extend the plant in the future, and to avoid conflicts with its neighbours.

Ringhals has turned part of the promontory where the plant is located into a nature reserve, in collaboration with the local government country administrative board. The company has embarked on several environmental projects in the reserve. For example, working with hunters and ornithologists, it has started reintroducing the black grouse into the area. This bird was very common when the heath was more widespread. So far, 50 black grouse have been bred in aviaries on Ringhals’ land by the company’s own hunting club.

Ornithologists know Ringhals well for its unique bird life. More than 180 pairs of wading birds use the wetlands by the seashore as their breeding place, including the southern dunlin, the black-tailed godwit, the sheldrake and the rare garganey duck. There are also threatened species such as the avocet and the ruff, and occasional visitors to the rich fishing grounds off the cost include the osprey and the peregrine falcon. The reserve has even been recognised by the EU as an important area for birdlife.

The company has also been instrumental in restoring a nearby farm and a chapel that was used as an administration building when the plant was being built. The farm and its buildings date from the 1920s, and their architecture is a valuable monument to a farming culture that was once significant in this part of Sweden. Both the farm and the chapel are now maintained by a local folklore society.

One area of Ringhals’ environmental interest is the preservation of the Ödhumla, an old native breed of cattle that originates from Norway. Ringhals has supported the preservation of the Ödhumla since 1994, when only a few examples of the breed were left in the world. When threatened with extinction, the breed became protected by the World Wildlife Fund. There are now fifteen Ödhumla on Ringhals’ land, of which six were bred there.

As the nature reserve that it operates becomes a national attraction, Ringhals has proved that land management can provide a real opportunity in public acceptance for nuclear plant operators. “If the land is well managed, it helps to build the image of a nuclear power plant with a great commitment to the environment,” said a spokesperson.

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