School children flood in for new defences tour
The Environment Agency hosted an event for school pupils and local residents to see the flood defences that reduce the risk of flooding to their community.
Engineers went back to school to give youngsters in Teesside a tour of new multi-million-pound flood defences which protect their community from flooding.
And they saw first-hand the EUR 11 million scheme, currently under construction, which reduces the risk of flooding from Greatham Creek and will create 30 hectares of new habitat for wildlife to thrive.
Together the projects protect 350 homes and 32 businesses at Port Clarence from flooding.
Pupils travelled on the Transporter Bridge across the River Tees to get a bird’s eye view of the flood defences, while at Greatham they got to see workers in action building new flood embankments – and even got to see the popular seals!
The event, which took place last week, also gave local residents the opportunity to find out more about the scheme, while MP Alex Cunningham was also given an insight into how the defences work to protect his constituency.
Phil Marshall, the Environment Agency’s Senior Advisor on the project, said, "It’s really important the community understands how the flood defences at Port Clarence work together with the scheme at Greatham Creek to reduce their risk of flooding. It’s a great project with lots of innovative features and the added benefit of creating extra habitat for wildlife in a vital conservation area."
Adding further, he said, "Our future generations will play an important role in ensuring our communities are resilient as we deal with the impacts of climate change and it was great to show the school pupils this great engineering and habitat creation project. Hopefully, it will inspire them to want to make a difference."
The first phase of the project was completed in December 2015 and saw new flood defences built in Port Clarence, consisting of a mixture of earth embankments, flood walls, and a raised section of the road on the approach to the Transporter Bridge.
In addition, the Environment Agency worked together with local business Wilton Engineering to install removable steel flood defences along the River Tees. This improves flood protection while still allowing Wilton to operate from the river.
Work started on the second phase in summer 2017 and involves raising existing flood embankments along Greatham Creek.
There is also a managed realignment of part of the current flood defences. This means a new embankment to the north of the RSPB Saltholme Nature Reserve has been built around a larger area of land, and then the existing flood embankment will be breached later this year.
This results in the creation of around 30 hectares of intertidal habitat to the north of the nature reserve. It’s a popular area frequented by seals, and a variety of bird species including shelduck, knot and redshank.
The Environment Agency is working with local businesses in the area, with SABIC UK providing funding towards the scheme and INOVYN ChlorVinyls providing some of their lands for the additional habitat creation. Phil added, "Work is progressing well and is expected to be completed this autumn. The local businesses in the area know only too well how devastating it is to be flooded having been affected by the tidal surge in December 2013."
He further stated, "By working together with 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. This has been quite a unique partnership and I can’t emphasise enough the benefits this will bring to the area."
The Environment Agency has also been working closely with partners at RSPB and Natural England to design and build a scheme which maximises benefits for the internationally designated habitat, and to ensure disruption to wildlife and visitors to the local area is kept to a minimum.