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Planning permission sought for major new wildlife habitat on the Tees Estuary


The £2.3 million scheme to create 22 hectares of inter-tidal saltmarsh and mudflat at Greatham Creek will compensate for the loss of similar habitats across the Tees Estuary  - and also at Redcar - which will be lost over time due to rising sea levels.
What is being proposed in the area?

The proposed work will include the construction of a new flood bank. This will allow two breaches to be made in the existing embankment along the north bank of Greatham Creek, without increasing flood risk to properties and businesses in the Greatham area. The breaches will allow the tide coming up the estuary to wash in and out, thereby creating a significant new area of inter-tidal mudflat and saltmarsh. This will support a variety of bird species whose populations are at risk because of gradual loss of suitable habitat over time. The new bank will have a public footpath along the top which will provide excellent vantage points for bird watchers.

The Greatham scheme, which will take six months to complete, is part of an overall strategy for the Tees Estuary being developed by the Environment Agency. The aim is to protect homes and properties from flooding, while at the same time ensuring that valuable wildlife habitat of international importance is maintained.

The Environment Agency hopes to start work in May 2012, subject to planning permission and other consents being secured. The Tees Estuary is internationally renowned for its inter-tidal habitats, which lie underwater at high tide but are exposed at low tide to provide feeding grounds for thousands of birds, including a number of rare species. In a natural situation, inter-tidal habitats would move inland as sea levels rise but flood defences along the estuary currently stop this from happening.  This is called coastal squeeze.
Because this valuable habitat is being lost, the Environment Agency has a legal obligation to create new inter-tidal habitat to compensate for losses elsewhere.

Bruce Munro, the Environment Agency’s principal environmental project manager for the scheme, said:  “We have carried out a detailed environmental assessment to support our planning application and are delighted to see this project coming to fruition at last. In developing our proposals, we have worked very closely with a range of partners, including the RSPB and Natural England, and also with the local community.


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