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Major ecological improvement works to urban green spaces across the Solihull Borough Newts & Shoots pond creation and improvement works

6 month time frame
Desilting, pond creation and improvement works

Newts and Shoots pond creation and enhancement is a multi-functional scheme funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). As part of ongoing environmental developments in the Solihull Borough to improve urban green spaces across the region, the programme of works focusses on improving the ecological status of 4 main sites, Elmdon Nature Park, Palmers Rough Local Nature Reserve, Bridge Meadow, and Jobs Close.

The project builds on the achievements of the previously successful schemes by enhancing an additional 3.83 hectares of semi-natural habitat. The four sites have become much-loved amenity spaces for the surrounding local community, however prior to the improvement works, the ponds were in poor ecological condition suffering with various degrees of canopy shading and had become heavily silted overtime.

At the beginning of December 2021, works commenced on the three ponds at Palmers Rough. The first part of the project consisted of dredging silt from the ponds using an amphibious excavator, the ditch was then opened enabling the watercourse to flow into a temporary pond to create seasonal habitat. Nicospan receptors were installed to retain the silt on site, forming new wetland habitat and tree hedgerows were used around the ponds to act as a physical barrier to foxes. The park also benefitted from the addition of a new public fishing platform.

Bridge Meadow was the largest part of the project taking 3 weeks to complete, the site required extensive restoration works on both the ponds and feeder stream. Over 400³m of silt was dredged and placed into nicospan receptors and 50% of overhanging branches and vegetation was removed providing the pond with natural daylight, benefitting both aquatic plants and animals. The site team also installed timber fencing to protect local badger habitat and hibernacula’s as a place for various species to seek refuge.

Job Close required the removal of 60 metres of concrete lining the pond to naturalise the bank, before an amphibious excavator was used to desilt the pond and create various nicospan receptors. A pond dipping platform was installed for locals to enjoy and the team also refurbished the on-site birdhouse back to its original condition. At the fourth site, Elmdon Park, a brand new 220m2 pond with varying levels and a species rich grassland was created for the core purpose of benefitting the Great Crested Newt, a European protected species. Habitat was re-introduced to the park and fencing was fitted to protect aquatics species from dogs entering their territory.

Approximately 10,000 plants were introduced to the four sites around the perimeter of the ponds to provide new and more varied habitat, improve oxygenation and water filtration, significantly enhancing biodiversity. Ebsford also carried out tree works across the four sites to allow daylighting, using excess material to create hibernacula’s and fill out pond receptors. Excess plants were given to a local allotment group to use.

The local community were involved the projects throughout, including eco club pupils from Arden Secondary School, ‘Friends of Elmdon Park’ and Wildlife Trust who did an excellent job creating new habitats for pond wildlife by planting hundreds of aquatic plants. The works will have a huge and lasting impact on both local residents and the environment, improving habitat for wildlife and enhancing biodiversity, an increase in ducks and tadpoles have already been spotted across the pond since project completion in May 2022.


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