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Tyne Bridge contractor told not to shine light at the river

12 Oct 23 Unusual conditions have been imposed on contractors undertaking the £42m refurbishment of the Tyne Bridge.

The Tyne Bridge
The Tyne Bridge

Esh Construction has already had to wait until the end of the kittiwake nesting season before starting work on the bridge, and now it has been ordered to take special measures to protect fish.

The Marine Management Organisation (MMO) has imposed several conditions in its award of a marine licence for the planned refurbishment of the Tyne Bridge.

With the River Tyne being tidal for its last 14 miles, fish migration – including Atlantic salmon – is a concern with the work lasting up to four years.

Main contractor Esh has been ordered not to point any lights directly at the river as the MMO fears that this could cause behaviour change among fish and impact migration required to spawn.

In addition, with restoration including the removal of guano (bird poo) as well as steelwork blasting and repairs – both the scaffold and gantry have to be fully sealed to protect against the release of fuels, oils and chemicals into the river.

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The Grade II listed structure was last refurbished and painted in 2001 with a paint system designed to last approximately 20 years.

The current work will include steelwork repairs, full re-painting, concrete repairs, drainage improvements, stonework and masonry repairs, bridge deck waterproofing and resurfacing, parapet protection and bridge joint replacement.

Initial works have now begun, with scaffold erection taking three months; main works begin next year.

Nesting provision for kittiwakes has to be maintained throughout the works to minimise disruption to this protected species. The Tyne Bridge is home to more than 1,000 pairs of kittiwakes, the furthest inland breeding colony of kittiwakes in the world, it is said.

Dubbed kittiwake hotels, nesting ledges will be built onto scaffold towers, which the kittiwakes can use when they return for the breeding season next year.

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