A NEW area of wetland is being developed in Stockton-on-Tees to create a haven for wildlife to thrive.
Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council will start work to create three hectares of wetland at Sixfields, next to Hartburn Beck, on Monday, June 4.
This area of land often gets inundated with water during heavy rain, and will now be dug to different depths to hold water and create floodplain meadow.
The wetland will increase the variety of plants and improve habitat for wildlife and a walkway for pedestrians will enable the community to enjoy the new area.
The wetland creation project will take around four weeks to complete and is part of the wider Lustrum Beck Flood Alleviation Scheme, aimed at reducing the risk of flooding and creating new habitat in the town.
The Council and the Environment Agency are working together on the project. The first phase, costing £3million, was completed in summer last year and involved building new flood defences and improving existing ones in the town, and replacing Londonderry Bridge.
As well as creating new habitat at Sixfields, Phase 2 of the project will also see natural flood management features created upstream of Lustrum Beck to reduce the risk of flooding in the town.
Councillor Mike Smith, the Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment and Transport, said: “This is a great way of enhancing the natural environment and another strong example of our ongoing partnership work alongside the Environment Agency.
“The creation of new habitat will attract and sustain all kinds of wildlife, which is great news for nature enthusiasts!
“Some areas of land will be fenced off while the work takes place and we’d ask people to bear with us during that time because the results will be well worth it.”
Dorian Latham, Lustrum Beck Project Manager at the Environment Agency, added: “The Lustrum Beck project really is an innovative scheme which combines engineering solutions in the town centre and natural flood management upstream, which will work together to reduce the risk of flooding to residents.
“But importantly we are also taking the opportunity to create new features for wildlife to thrive and the community to enjoy, and we’re delighted to see the council has started work on the wetland creation at Sixfields.
“This year we will be working on new wetlands and designs for natural flood management features at Coatham Woods and will be consulting with the community in due course.”
At Coatham Woods, the Environment Agency is working with Newcastle University, Arup, Tees Rivers Trust and the Forestry Commission to design a natural flood management scheme. It is expected consultation on the designs will take place this year with work taking place in 2019.
And reducing risk and increasing resilience to flooding is the basis for a European-funded project which the Tees Rivers Trust are part of. The FRAMES project has partners across Europe and Lustrum Beck is one of three pilot areas in the UK. The Trust is working closely with local landowners, giving advice on catchment management that has benefits for water quality, reducing flood risk and for the farm business. This has also helped identify opportunities to install further natural flood management features across the catchment.