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Thu May 06 2021

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Flood defence scheme expands seals' habitat

4 Jul 17 Contractor BMMJV has started work on an £11m flood protection project in Teesside.

Seals basking at Greatham Creek
Seals basking at Greatham Creek

The project will increase flood protection from Greatham Creek while creating around 30 hectares of extra wildlife habitat.

BMMJV – BAM Nuttall and Mott MacDonald Joint Venture – is carrying out the work on behalf of the Environment Agency.

The first phase of the project, which saw new flood defences built at Port Clarence to reduce flood risk from the River Tees at a cost of £4.5m, was finished in December 2015. This consisted of a mixture of earth embankments, flood walls, and a raised section of the road on the approach to the Transporter Bridge.

Phase two will see existing flood embankments raised along Greatham Creek to reduce the flood risk to Port Clarence and land which is south of the creek.

There will also be a managed realignment of part of the current flood defences. This means a new embankment to the north of RSPB Saltholme Nature Reserve will be built around a larger area of land, and then the existing flood embankment will be breached. This results in the creation of around 30 hectares of intertidal habitat to the north of the nature reserve. It is an area frequented by seals, and a variety of bird species including shelduck, knot and redshank.

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Phase two is expected to be complete by the end of 2018. Together the projects are designed to reduce the risk of flooding from both the River Tees and Greatham Creek at Port Clarence, protecting 350 homes and 32 businesses.

Phil Marshall, the Environment Agency’s senior advisor on the scheme, said: “I remember well the devastating impact the tidal surge in December 2013 had on the area, affecting around 50 homes and businesses.

“By working together with local industry we’re vastly improving existing defences to protect residents and businesses and reduce the risk of flooding now and into the future as sea levels start to rise.

“It’s a great example of how we’re working closely with partners, businesses and communities to create long-term, sustainable solutions to flooding while also making enhancements to the environment. This is a vital conservation area enjoyed by visitors from far and wide and we’re taking the opportunity to create 30 hectares of extra habitat to ensure wildlife continues to thrive.  In addition, while access to the creek is limited during the work, we are working with RSPB Saltholme to enable visitors to see live images from the creek of the ever popular seals.”

The Environment Agency is working with local businesses in the area with Sabic UK providing some funding towards the scheme and Inovyn ChlorVinyls providing some land for the additional habitat creation.

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