North East and Yorkshire

Tyne Estuary Partnership – Innovation Update

Groundwork NE & Cumbria (Groundwork) are pleased to be working in partnership with the Environment Agency (EA) to lead the ongoing development of the Tyne Estuary Partnership (TEP).

Invested in the long-term environmental and economic enhancement of the estuary; this strong, strategic, influential partnership was established in 2019 and is making a meaningful and sustainable impact on the River Tyne and the region as a whole.

In 2021 the TEP is delivering environmental enhancements through innovative Nature Based Solutions (NBS) and demonstrating ecological, water quality and biodiversity improvements.

This spring two sites will benefit from NBS installations aimed at improving the ecology of the Tyne Estuary where the man-made banks prevent natural habitats from developing. They will also contribute to improved water quality and capture carbon helping to mitigate against climate change.

At Royal Quays Marina in North Tyneside, a 50m2 floating ecosystem will be anchored in place and planted with native salt tolerant plants. This greenery will help to soften an otherwise hard urban environment and provide additional habitat for plants, birds and invertebrates. There is also a surprise under the surface, where baskets filled with natural materials provide a nursery for fish and other marine organisms such as sponges, seaweeds and bivalves to become established, so creating a small reef system in the marina.

Across the water in Hebburn, South Tyneside a different approach is being used where natural wooden structures will be placed in to the bed of the estuary edge. These will then allow mudflat to develop on top of which saltmarsh plants can grow. Mudflat and saltmarsh are a very rare habitat, which was once commonplace on the Tyne. They also capture and store a large amount of carbon preventing it from entering the atmosphere and contributing to climate changed. This site alone can capture 1tonne of carbon per year as well as
providing food and places for specialist birds such as redshank, oystercatcher and curlew to inhabit.

Councillor Joan Atkinson, Deputy Leader of South Tyneside Council, said: “We are delighted that work will soon start to help restore the once lost mudflat and salt marsh habitats on the banks of the Tyne.

“As a Council, we are committed to doing all we can to reduce our carbon footprint. This scheme supports those efforts by creating a natural source for capturing climate-changing carbon gases.

“The re-establishment of these important wetlands will also allow rare species of plants, birds and animals to flourish, improving and increasing biodiversity in the area. “We are very much looking forward to working with our partners on this exciting project.”