The Solutia site in Newport is located on a disused landfill site at the rear of Eastman’s chemical works. Part of the planning conditions for the two turbines was for a management plan and monitoring programme to maintain and enhance the area for the benefit of a small population of great crested newts and for breeding Cetti’s warbler.
Nevis was brought in a number of years after the turbines had been erected to evaluate the site for its current status and how it could be improved. Great crested newt surveys using eDNA analysis were carried out on the ponds found within the site. The survey indicated that great crested newts were still using the ponds, and following a bottle trapping survey a small population of newts was confirmed to still be breeding on site. The original management plan was revisited and updated to match the current conditions and develop a programme of works to improve the sites biodiversity.
Access to the site was challenging as it is located within the boundaries of a sensitive and volatile chemical works. Permissions and RAMS had to be achieved and a specialist sub-contractor brought in to carry out the sensitive work.
The site had become overgrown with trees and scrub and the ponds were heavily vegetated. The main focus was to get the ponds into a condition more suitable for breeding great crested newts. Reeds and duckweed were removed, and vegetation cut back around the ponds. Some of the ponds had concrete and rubble on their banks - this was removed and used to create hibernaculums on site.
Following the removal of vegetation and the opening up of the ponds, further newt surveys found an increase in the population. There are plans in place for more aquatic vegetation to be planted and some of the trees to be removed in small blocks to create a mosaic of habitats. This will benefit the great crested newts outside of their breeding season and improve the site for breeding Cetti’s warbler.