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South Tyneside gets £6.9million Stronger Shores funding boost to protect coastline against flooding, erosion and climate change

Members of the Stronger Shores team add oysters to one of the Wild Oyster project's North east farms

Posted on January 30, 2023

The borough council has secured £6.9million funding for the region’s Stronger Shores initiative, which will look at how marine habitats such as seagrass meadows, kelp forests and oyster reefs can protect coastlines and reduce the cost of maintaining existing coastal protection.

Experts will test new restoration approaches in the aim of improving water quality; reducing erosion, structural damage, and wave impacts, and protecting against pollution and climate change.

The project, which is supported by Newcastle University, University of Plymouth, Tees Rivers Trust, The North Sea Wildlife Trusts, Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and Groundwork North East & Cumbria (GWNEC), is funded by the Department for Agriculture, Fisheries and Rural Affairs as part of the £150 million Flood and Coastal Resilience Innovation Programme which is managed by the Environment Agency to develop and test new approaches to the fight against flooding and climate change.

Coun Ernest Gibson is South Tyneside’s Lead Member for Transport and Chair of the Local Government Association Coastal Special Interest Group: “Our coastline is one of our greatest treasures but, over the years, important natural habitats have been lost,” he said.

“Many areas are threatened by flooding, erosion and storms and climate change will only make this worse. If we do nothing, habitats, man-made coastal defences and communities could all suffer.

“Traditional man-made coastal protection solutions are often expensive to install, maintain and replace. Sand dunes and saltmarshes offer protection but are themselves threatened by rising sea levels and development pressures.

Safer Shores will look at ways to restore kelp forests off the North East coast

“However, marine habitats can act as natural buffers that protect coastlines, enhance community benefits and reduce maintenance costs for existing coastal protection.”

ZSL Restoration Project Manager Celine Gamble added: “This Stronger Shores funding will help us and Groundwork North East and Cumbria build on our previous work on the Wild Oyster Project. By allowing us to scale up, this investment will mean we can increase our habitat restoration efforts and deliver a more extensive, longer-term monitoring programme.

‘A practical, value-for-money approach’

Mark Dinning, Head of Conservation, for Durham Wildlife Trust, is looking forward to getting started: “Stronger Shores offers opportunities to boost existing conservation projects by sharing resources, expertise and information with other organisations,” he said.

Oyster reefs are part of the project

The project would look at ways to restore seagrass fields along the North East England coast: “This is a practical, value-for-money approach that can save money, assets and infrastructure later if we can create a proven framework for others follow – not just in the North-east but across the UK and beyond.”

Simon Wilson, Environment Agency Area Flood and Coastal Risk Manager for the North East, said Stronger Shores had ‘huge potential to help communities become more resilient to the effects of flooding and climate change’.

Climate change is happening now and we will see future impact on people, communities, wildlife and the economy.

“Stronger Shores will be key in finding long-term solutions to protect communities across South Tyneside and the rest of the country. ”

Collecting seagrass seeds on Lindisfarne

Collecting seagrass seeds on Lindisfarne

South Tyneside Council is keen to hear people’s views on the project. For more information or to share views, email
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