Newts surprise engineers at Bridgwater Substation

Protected species found under a cable trough

At National Grid, we recognise the importance of always being aware of our surroundings and doing the right thing. This month we are proud our vigilant team at the Bridgwater substation. The team were carrying out some vacuum excavation work in a cable trench when they saw something move. Imagine their surprise when they found three newts, hiding in the mud in between the cable runs.  

The newts were found in an area where you might not expect to find wildlife. Whilst Bridgwater substation is a rural substation, with plenty of green pasture and woodland around it, the newts were found in the heart of the substation underneath a concrete cable trough.

They obviously found the cable trough to be an ideal hibernating spot. The local ponds around the vicinity were all tested for great crested newt DNA, ahead of the start of the scheme, and nothing was identified. The area was deemed a non-suitable habitat for them, making it even more surprising.

Once found, work ceased immediately and a barrier was set up to keep people away from the area. The contractor's environmental advisor was called and they positively identified one of the newts as being a great crested newt. 

To make sure the site team were prepared for any future appearances of the newts, everybody on site received training to help identify and protect the species. 

Hinkley Connection Project manager Gareth Thomas commented on the discovery: “I am incredibly proud of my team for their swift action to ensure no harm came to the rare newts.  They are tiny creatures and could have easily have been missed so it was very astute of the team carrying out the work to identify them and do the right thing. It was a really good spot!” 

The environmental advisor who has a licence to remove newts, came back the next day to translocate them. However when they lifted up every cover and checked every gap, the newts were already gone. Stopping work and clearing the area gave the newts the space they needed to move on themselves. 

Newts are tiny creatures and could have easily have been missed as they are not easy to spot. Almost black in colour, with spotted flanks and a striking, orange belly, the Great Crested Newt is the country’s largest newt. It is widespread across lowland England and Wales.