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Spotlight to shine on Greatham Creek at international showcase

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A multi-award-winning flood defence project will take centre stage at an international showcase event being held in La Rochelle, South West France.

The flood alleviation work delivered at Greatham Creek located in the River Tees estuary between Hartlepool and Billingham has been chosen as an example of ‘Best Practice’ to be presented by representatives from the Environment Agency at ICE Coastal Management 2019 (Institution of Civil Engineers / 24 to 26 September). 

Greatham Creek is no stranger to plaudits as the scheme has won or been nominated for a string of national and international industry awards including winning the Institution of Civil Engineers North East Robert Stephenson Award in the large projects category.

The Environment Agency worked in partnership with local businesses and organisations including SABIC, INOVYN ChlorVinyls, Wilton Engineering, the RSPB, Natural England and the Teesside Environmental Trust to help reduce the risk of flooding to 350 homes and 32 businesses in Port Clarence and the Seal Sands Industrial Complex.  

The scheme has improved the environment by creating almost 50 hectares of new habitat that has benefited a variety of species from the local wildlife population including birds and seals. The sheer size of the additional habitat is the equivalent of 80 football pitches.

The need for change was accelerated by the East Coast tidal surge back in 2013 that not only flooded local residential properties but saw the evacuation of some local people.  The tidal surge also had a big impact on the surrounding business community.

Phase 1 involved the introduction of flood walls and embankments along the River Tees with Phase 2 dealing with the risk to properties in Port Clarence from Greatham Creek.  The work has included the creation of six kilometres of flood defences to protect the local area.

The scheme included the innovative design of seal and bird hides by School of Architecture students at Leeds Beckett University.

Dennis Hancock, Catchment Engineer | North East, Environment Agency, said: “The project has seen the successful fusion of innovative engineering and environmental working that combined to create a scheme aimed at helping better protect properties and businesses from potential extreme weather conditions.

“The skills, knowledge and expertise given by all of the regional partners involved has been second to none, and being able to work with the architects and designers of tomorrow has given the Greatham Creek project a fresh approach to help the delivery of a programme that benefits people, wildlife and the local economy.

“All of the hard work and ambition for the scheme is best represented by its selection for the ICE Coastal Management event showing that Greatham Creek is deemed worthy of international recognition.”

Daren Smith, SABIC’s Site Director, said: “The scheme has been critical to keep the community safe whilst protecting industry and jobs and safeguarding the future of the natural habitat in the area.

“SABIC are proud to have supported this vital project, it has been a true partnership approach.  The project was very well thought out, containing some fascinating elements and has even been built to take climate change in to account for the future.  The recent awards and nominations for the project are very well deserved.”

Mr Smith concludes: “Our hopes for the project are that the natural habitat continues to attract and help wildlife to flourish alongside providing protection and stability for the surrounding community and industry. We also hope that the project is seen to be best practice in the industry throughout the UK, Europe and beyond.”

For further information about the work of the Environment Agency please visit www.gov.uk/government/organisations/environment-agency

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