Rare newts thriving at Miller Argent

An independent ecological survey of Miller Argent’s Ffos-y-fran open cast site in Merthyr Tydfil suggests there has been a substantial increase in numbers and breeding activity of its onsite rare Great Crested newt populations.

The Great Crested Newt is the largest of the three native British newts and a European protected species, which means the amphibians; their eggs and breeding sites are protected by law.

The survey, conducted over a seven week period to coincide with the newts breeding season, shows that numbers have increased substantially since a previous survey in 2011.”

Prior to the commencement of its site operations at Ffos-y-fran, Miller Argent commissioned an in-depth study of the ecology of the site, which identified that Great Crested newts were present.

Working in conjunction with independent ecologists, Natural Resources Wales and the Merthyr Tydfil Biodiversity Partnership, Miller Argent implemented a comprehensive ecological management plan to protect and enhance habitats and ecosystems across the large areas of grassland and ancient woodland on the site. The plan is designed to safeguard the diverse range of plant and animal species that exist on site, including the Great Crested Newt, Palmate Newt and common frogs; birds such as Lapwing, Curlew, Ringed Plover, Coot, Heron, Buzzard, Red Kite; mammals such as Otter and various species of bats; and insects such as Broom Moth, Blue-Tailed Damselfly and Grayling and Small Heath butterflies.

Also, as part the management plan, Miller Argent has dedicated two large areas of its site to nature conservation, namely the Cwm Golau Valley and a ‘Central Ecological Area’. It is in these two areas that an extensive network of ponds has been created, including ten ponds in Cwm Golau and a further six in the Central Ecological Area. The Great Crested Newts have established themselves across these two areas and the survey shows numbers are increasing.

Neil Brown, Managing Director of Miller Argent said:

“It is fantastic news that our onsite populations of these rare and protected Great Crested newts are present and thriving. At Miller Argent we take our responsibility to protect the local environment and the creatures that live within it extremely seriously. The fact that the onsite population of Great Crested Newts is on the rise is testament to the success of our ecological management measures and it is something we will continue to build on in the future.”

In addition to the ponds, Miller Argent has also implemented a range of habitat enhancements including planting native trees, restoring hedgerows and installing bird and bat boxes.

Ecologists will continue to monitor the site on an ongoing basis to help ensure the continuing success of Miller Argents resident newt population into the future.

Tony Chaplin, Chairperson of the Merthyr Tydfil Biodiversity Partnership said This year’s survey indicates that the work on existing ponds and the provision of the additional ponds has improved the aquatic habitat for this European protected species. It positively assists the Partnership achieve its objectives on habitat enhancement and a population increase.”


Image credit: Fred Holmes (ARC Trust)