The Environment Agency has officially opened the Port Clarence and Greatham South flood scheme in Teesside. The project saw almost 50ha of wildlife habitat created alongside the flood defences.
Combined with flood defences which were completed at Port Clarence in 2015, the project has increased protection to 350 homes and 32 businesses, providing increased flood protection to Port Clarence residents from the river Tees and Greatham Creek. The flood defences are designed to last 50 years accounting for climate change impacts. Existing embankments along Greatham Creek were raised while new flood defences to the north of the RSPB Saltholme Nature Reserve.
Old flood defences were also breached to allow a new area to fill with water creating over 36ha of new intertidal habitat. An additional 12ha of freshwater habitat were also created as part of the project. The Environment Agency worked closely with the RSPB and Natural England to ensure the scheme maximised habitat benefits for a range of species including rare birds and seals. The habitat features a number of features including a bird hide and seal hide enabling the public to get a closer view of the animals.
Chris Francis, senior site manager at RSPB Saltholme said: "Over the years much of the valuable natural habitat of Tees Estuary has been lost to industry and agriculture. The breaching of the old flood defence means that a large area will be reconnected to the estuary and will eventually return to its natural saltmarsh habitat, which will provide an important feeding ground for many wading birds and wildfowl, especially during the winter months."