Local industry has joined forces with the Environment Agency to enable the completion of a vital new Teesside flood defence scheme that has created new wildlife habitat the size of more than 90 football pitches.
Costing almost £16m, the Port Clarence and Greatham South project will benefit local residents and businesses as well as providing a significant boost to local wildlife.
The project has increased flood protection to Port Clarence residents from the River Tees and Greatham Creek.
The scheme received significant funding from chemical company SABIC, with INOVYN ChlorVinyls offering land to allow the creation of the new habitat.
Throughout the project, the Environment Agency worked closely with the RSPB and Natural England to create a scheme that maximises benefits for the internationally designated habitat which includes rare birds as well as seals.
The new habitats also feature a brand new bird hide and a seal hide to give nature-lovers a close-up view of these stunning local species.
Combined with flood defences that were completed at Port Clarence in 2015, the project reduces the risk of flooding to 350 homes and 32 businesses in Port Clarence and the Seal Sands Industrial Complex.
Phil Marshall, the Environment Agency’s senior advisor on the scheme, said: “This is a project that has lots of fascinating elements as it has a vital conservation area right in the shadow of important industry.
“Our aim was to protect residents, safeguard the infrastructure of business and create a haven for wildlife to thrive, and we’ve achieved all of that.
“It’s a great example of industry stepping forward to protect the future of the local economy and helping protect the environment in an important conservation area that is right on their doorstep.
“This has been a true partnership project, which has helped us create something which benefits the entire community.”
Daren Smith, SABIC’S Teesside site director, said it had been wonderful to work in partnership on a project that has benefited wildlife while protecting residents and businesses for the future.
“We remember only too well the catastrophic tidal flooding of December 2013,” he said. “Our own land was severely damaged by the flood and our employees worked hard to rebuild some of the natural habitats for wildlife that exist there. A further 20 businesses were also affected at the Seal Sands complex.
“We were delighted to step in and help the Environment Agency with the funding of this vital project. We care passionately about the community and the environment where we operate.”
As part of the scheme, the Environment Agency worked together with Port Clarence-based Wilton Engineering to install removable steel flood defences along the River Tees to improve flood protection while still allowing Wilton to operate from the river.
SABIC is a multinational company with UK operations on Teesside at Wilton, North Tees and Thornaby.
With a strong commitment to Teesside, the vast range SABIC’s corporate and social responsibility (CSR) activities includes:
> Providing up to £80,000 worth of water to RSPB Saltholme as well as being corporate members for the past ten years.
> Being a major partner of the Festival of Thrift which attracts over £45,000 visitors to Kirkleatham.
> Sponsoring the first Eston Nab Challenge Hill Race.
> Sponsoring litter picking equipment and undertaking beach cleans.
> Reaching out to over 5,000 school, college and university students through their educational outreach programmes.
> Supporting numerous local charities throughout the year such as MFC Foundation, Zoe’s Place, Teesside Philanthropic Foundation, RNLI Redcar and Daisy Chain.
Encouraging employees to volunteer in the community.