Skylarks on the Rolls-Royce roof

Last nights showing of the excellent The Nature of Britain BBC programme examined some interesting places and in particular for this viewer the Rolls-Royce factory roof in Goodwood.

Alan Titchmarsh MBE highlighted the plight of the skylark, a bird with a beautiful song, which in the wild would expect to see only one third of it’s chicks surviving as they are easy prey for hedgehogs, weazels and stoats. Some enterprising skylarks have found an ingenious means of keeping their nest out of harms way – by nesting on the green roof of the Rolls-Royce factory.

Designed by Sir Nicholas Grimshaw, the architect of the Eden Project in Cornwall. The 60 million pound Rolls-Royce building features the largest green roof in Europe. One that nesting skylarks have taken full advantage of, and one that keeps them out of reach of many of their natural mammal predators.

The eight acre roof has been planted with sedum plants which have water-storing leaves which helps to foster insects, which in turn creates the perfect environment for nesting skylarks. It is hoped that the Rolls-Royce roof will help keep their beautiful bird song in full chorus over the rolling Sussex Downs.

Over 400,000 trees and shrubs have been planted in the Rolls-Royce grounds where even the man-made lake acts as a heat sink for the climate control systems in the office buildings, resulting in savings in air conditioning costs. Custom-made owl boxes are also being deployed to encourage the increase of barn owls, which are now a specially protected species in the UK.

BMW the parent company of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Ltd, are renowned for their driving machines. But their Hydrogen 7 powered cars offer a glimpse of how eco-friendly travel will in the future be as luxurious as it is frugal. I hope that Rolls-Royce will be one of the first manufacturers to incorporate this technology, as soon as the fuel infrastructure is in place…