Category Archives: Energy & utilities

Ecological appraisal of two wastewater treatment works, Anglesey (2016)

I don’t usually travel as far as Anglesey for work, but occasionally it’s nice to go further afield.  This project involved ecological appraisal of two small wastewater treatment works in north west Anglesey.  Turning down the lane to the first site, I noticed a large development on the corner, ringed in great crested newt fencing.  Fairly big clue to the main ecological concern in this area!  Tourists often just visit the island’s spectacular coastline, but inland Anglesey is famous amongst ecologists for its cornucopia of wetlands, from ponds to lakes to internationally important species-rich fens and marshes.  And this means great crested newts are frequently found.

Great crested newt photographed in Cheshire in 2014 as part of a licensed survey

Great crested newt photographed in Cheshire in 2014 as part of a licensed survey

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Ecological appraisal on the Migneint, North Wales (2016)

Another small project for Welsh Water, this time appraising some very minor repairs indeed, but in a highly designated location.  The Migneint is a place of legend amongst Welsh botanists, not least for its consistently horrible weather.  It is part of Migneint-Arenig-Dduallt SSSI and internationally important for its blanket bogs and upland bird communities as well as home to otters, water voles and an array of interesting and notable species.

Fortunately the repairs as well as being minor were in locations accessible from an existing track, which meant there was no need for workers to traverse the adjacent semi-natural habitats.  Just as well, really, because our survey found that the ground was rather soft in places, with plenty of Sphagnum and bottle sedge.  Put me in mind of the kinds of stories digger drivers like to tell, the ones which start with them being asked to  “just drive across the river so you can start digging from the other side” and end with them losing a second digger in the mud whilst trying to pull out the first !

Luckily there was no evidence of water vole either, so provided an ecologist is there to check everything again before the works start, there should be no problem with the repair project.

Botanical survey near Middlesborough (2016)

I don’t usually travel this far for work, but a friend asked me for help and I was available, so I said yes.  I can’t tell you much about this project because I don’t actually know what it’s going to be when it’s finished, but I can tell you about what I did.

I was asked to provide plant species lists for the ponds, wooded shelterbelts and fields on a large site near Middlesborough.  This was my first trip to County Durham in a long time and I wasn’t sure what to expect botanically, so I was pleasantly surprised to find that the woods were elm woods and at least one of the ponds was quite interesting. Continue reading

NVC survey at Tirgwynt wind farm, Powys (2016)

If you’ve been following this blog for a long time you might remember I did an NVC survey at this site a while back.  Well, it turns out that when the client sent me the survey boundary, they missed a bit, and so back I went in June this year to finish the job.

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This part of the site was no less complex, with lots of little hillocks and ridges all over the place creating vegetation as well as topographic diversity.  Everything from improved grassland to blanket bog!  The adjacent wind farm is now under construction, but fortunately I was working in a different set of fields, so I didn’t have to contend with construction wagons and diggers.A

The vegetation was quite similar to previous, but I did find a couple of interesting species:

Adder's-tongue in the very first quadrat !

Adder’s-tongue in the very first quadrat !

Moonwort in a disused quarry adjacent to the site

Moonwort in a disused quarry adjacent to the site

Ecological survey, Llanarmon-yn-Ial, North Wales (2016)

Another week, another pipeline 🙂  It has been a real blast from the past working on water utilities again – many years ago I had a job at United Utilities and I loved the fieldwork, travelling all over north west England to survey sites for pipelines, extensions to water works and so on.  I didn’t love the office work quite as much – I estimated at one point that I was trying and failing to do the work of six people – so the field work was a blissful break from the stress and an opportunity to travel and get to know my own home region.

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Small projects for Dwr Cymru Welsh Water, North Wales, 2016

I’ve been on tour in North Wales recently looking at four small projects for Dwr Cymru Welsh Water.  In all cases, these were small pipeline schemes and my job was to look for any ecological constraints on the project.  These types of projects don’t need planning permission, but DCWW are aware of their responsibilities towards wildlife, and protected species in particular, so they are keen to have everything checked out to make sure they stay within the law. Continue reading

Water pipeline Phase 1 habitat survey, Conwy, North Wales (2015)

A nice straightforward project, this:  a replacement water pipeline running through intensive arable and improved pasture fields for a client committed to retaining all mature trees and protecting nearby ancient woodland.  Thank you for making this so easy !

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