- seeking justice
About the Glebelands
The Glebelands is a large area of contaminated land in the centre of Newport, South Wales. The land is nestled between a meander in the magnificent River Usk and the vibrant community of St Julians, Newport.
For a location map of the Glebelands, as things exist today, click here for a link to the Google Maps UK site.
For identification purposes, here's a low definition image to help you identify the location of the Glebelands on the main linked map:
On the surface, the casual observer may see the Glebelands as an oasis of unspoilt green space in an otherwise urban setting. But there is more to the Glebelands than meets the eye. Just below the grass and a thin 'capping layer' of soil is a huge quantity of toxic material - a legacy of Newport's industrial past.
Between the 1930s and the 1960s, the level of the Glebelands was raised by some three metres (about ten feet) through the dumping of domestic and industrial waste. As an 'uncontrolled' landfill site, everything from household waste through to animal carcasses and a wide range of hazardous industrial chemicals were dumped on the land that we now call 'the Glebelands'.
No records of what was dumped - or precisely where it was dumped - were ever made. The waste materials arrived in unmarked drums, boxes, and sacks - and some materials were just tipped or poured from the back of a vehicle.
The result is a cocktail of chemical waste that remains a potential threat to the health of local residents, the River Usk, and the wider environment.
From the 1960s, Newport council allowed the Glebelands to be used for a variety of community purposes, including allotments (to the north of the M4 motorway) as well as various sports and recreational purposes.
The River Usk
The River Usk is immediately to the west of the development site and is recognised for its ecological value by SAC and SSSI designations, highlighting the national and international importance of this unique river system. The designations extend from the mouth of the River Usk into its headwaters beyond the village of Sennybridge, Powys approximately 55 km north west of the Glebelands site. The River Usk flows into the Severn Estuary.
The River Usk includes estuary with mudflats and salt marsh, lagoons, bog and marsh, varied grassland and woodland habitats along its course. Its flora and fauna is diverse and includes salmon, trout, otters, twaite shad, allis shad, lamprey, perch, sea trout, chub, dace and roach as well as kingfishers, herons and other wildfowl and bird life. Dippers can be seen upriver along with red kite. The Usk has long been a noted salmon and trout fishing river.
The Severn Estuary
The Severn Estuary SSSI, SPA, SAC & Ramsar site is located about 5 km south of the site. The Severn Estuary has a large tidal range, which is often said to have the second highest tidal range in the world. Certainly, its characteristic funnel shape makes the Severn Estuary unique in Britain and very rare worldwide. The intertidal zone of mudflats, sand banks, rocky platforms and saltmarsh is one of the largest and most important in Britain. The estuarine fauna includes internationally important populations of waterfowl; invertebrate populations of considerable interest; and large populations of migratory fish, including the nationally rare and endangered allis shad.