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.
‘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.
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. ”