Wildlife habibat scheme a step closer

Greatham parish councillor Margo Simmonds with Charles Forman from the Environment Agency during a public consultation in the village's community centre
Greatham parish councillor Margo Simmonds with Charles Forman from the Environment Agency during a public consultation in the village's community centre
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PLANS to create a new bird habitat at Greatham have been lodged with council chiefs.

The Environment Agency is spearheading the scheme which would see 22 hectares of new inter-tidal saltmarsh and mudflat created near Greatham Creek.

The wildlife habitat is designed to replace other sites in the area which will be lost because of rising sea levels in the Tees Estuary.

Plans have now been submitted to Hartlepool Borough Council and if approved work is expected to start in May.

The scheme would involve building a new flood bank which would allow two breaches to be made in the current embankment.

The gaps would allow the tide to flow in and out to create a mudflat and saltmarsh at Greatham Creek which would attract a number of species.

Parish councillors will be given the opportunity to say what they think of the plan at their next meeting in the new year.

Brian Walker, chairman of Greatham Parish Council, broadly welcomed the scheme.

He said: “I regret the fact that we will lose a footpath along the creek although new ones will be provided.

“I think the possibility of providing a new wildlife habitat with the RSPB being involved is quite exciting.

“It is good to see the provision of an environmental improvement on the edge of the village and hopefully benefit Greatham from people walking down to see the seals and birds.

“The village will become a gateway to the area.”

The Environment Agency held two public consultation meetings in the village to explain their plans and answer questions from interested residents.

It said the agency has a legal obligation to replace habitat being lost to rising sea levels and flood defences across the Tees Estuary and at Redcar.

Inter-tidal zones are land which is under water at high tide but exposed at low tide.

Much of the inter-tidal habitat around the Tees Estuary is legally protected because it is internationally important for birds.