Teesside country park project to bring boost for wildlife
Plans for a £1million project to restore wetland habitat, open up the river for fish and improve access at a Teesside country park will be on display next week.
Residents are invited to find out more about the Billingham Beck Valley Country Park habitat restoration project, which will boost wildlife and biodiversity and support water quality improvements at Billingham Beck and Thorpe Beck.
The £1million project, led by the Environment Agency in partnership with Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council and National Highways, will start later this year.
- Partly removing an historic weir to open up 55km of river for migrating fish from the River Tees.
- Woody debris dams and new shallow ditches to reconnect Billingham Beck to floodplains, restoring areas of wetland.
- An upgraded network of footpaths and improved landscaping to enhance access and public enjoyments of the site and boost visitor numbers.
- Improved vehicle access for easier maintenance of the new wetlands.
Public events to find out more about the project will take place on:
- Monday 30 January in Billingham Library from 3-6.30pm
- Friday 3 February in Norton Library from 3-6.30pm
The watercourses in this area have been historically modified with channels straightened and deepened and the introduction of culverts and a weir, with the loss of wetland habitat having an adverse effect on the ecology and restricting fish movement.
Much-needed boost to biodiversity
Joe Reed, Project Manager for the Environment Agency, said:
“This exciting project will bring a much-needed boost to biodiversity after decades of modification saw precious habitat lost.
“Working with our partners, we’re creating new wetlands, supporting fish migration and making it more accessible for the community and we’d encourage people to come along to the events to find out more.”
Councillor Mike Smith, Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment and Transport, added:
“Last year we announced a ten-year Environmental Sustainability and Carbon Reduction Strategy – and it’s great to be working on this project alongside partners who share the same ambition to protect and enhance the environment, which is one of the key aims of the strategy.
“It’s very exciting to be involved in restoring the wetland at Billingham Beck Valley Country Park and I would certainly encourage anyone who wants to know more to come along to one of the upcoming drop-in engagement sessions.”
Most of the funding for the project has come from National Highways, which has approved £906,000 for feasibility, detailed design and implementation. The project has been aligned with its scheme to improve the A19 between Norton and Wynyard to create a better journey for drivers, ensuring it also provides benefits for the environment.
National Highways Senior Project Manager Keith Bradley said:
“Our aim is that through our activities, there should be no loss of biodiversity. By working closely with the Environment Agency we have aimed to protect the landscape surrounding our roads, as well as wildlife and water quality.
“By funding the improvement of public access to this area we have also worked to develop a fantastic community green space as well as a tranquil rest area for users of the A19. We’re delighted that the community now has the chance to see these plans for themselves.”
The funding has been provided through National Highways’ Designated Funding programme. National Highways manages four designated funds, allocated by the Government, to deliver benefits above and beyond building, maintaining and operating England’s strategic roads.