The River Tyne is one of the most iconic and well known rivers in the UK. The Tyne Estuary provides a focal point for economic activity that continues to develop along the river; supporting thriving businesses and is often the backdrop for large events such as the Great Exhibition of the North.

Over the years, there has been significant investment to improve the quality of the Tyne, however due to the many significant pressures affecting the river; from historic mining, contaminated sites and sewage to new developments and population growth improvements have been difficult. The Tyne Estuary Partnership (TEP) has sought to address this, setting out a ten-year enhancement strategy in helping to secure global net zero by mid-century and keep 1.5 degrees within reach whilst adapting to protect communities and natural habitats, mobilising finance and working together to deliver change.

Multi-sector partnerships are proven to have significant impacts on river management in the UK by delivering environmental quality, community engagement and providing economic opportunities. Groundwork NE & Cumbria (Groundwork) are delighted to be working in partnership with the Environment Agency (EA) to lead ongoing development of the TEP.

The TEP is invested in the long-term environmental and economic enhancement of the estuary; this strong, strategic, influential partnership is making a meaningful and sustainable impact on the River Tyne and the region as a whole. Formally established in 2019, the TEP has delivered on a number of sites, which have now directly benefitted from the use of nature-based solutions. These sites will be monitored for 4-5 years to assess ecological benefits and overall performance of the interventions.

Current Projects Include:

Nine potential pilot sites have been selected:

Biomatrix Floating Ecosystems

Floating ecosystems are ideal for water courses in urban areas, as they provide habitat and help bring water to life. They resemble a versatile ecosystem lego – using recycled, recyclable or biodegradable materials – to allow plant growth above and below the water’s surface. The floating vegetated rafts create fish refugia underwater and provide roosting, nesting and foraging opportunities for a wide range of birds, mammals and invertebrates.

Wild Oysters Project

The Wild Oysters project is aiming to restore Britain’s seas to health through the restoration of the native oyster!

Oyster reefs clean our coastal waters and create an important habitat for other marine animals. Native oysters were once commonly found in UK seas, however populations across Europe have declined by 95% since the 1800s. With this decline, we have also lost the benefits they provided.

The project is a national collaboration, led by the Zoological Society of London, Blue Marine Foundation and British Marine, working with the marine industry and local communities and organisations, to deliver restoration sites in England, Scotland and Wales.

The Tyne and Wear coastal water body will join the River Conwy in Wales and the Firth of Clyde in Scotland in being the locations for new oyster nurseries. Alison Debney, ZSL Senior Conservation Programme Manager, said: “Our dream is to grow a self-sustaining population of native oysters in the UK.”

Viking Heat Exchange, South Tyneside.

The Tyne Estuary Partnership (TEP) and South Tyneside Council are working together to recreate rare habitats on the banks of the River Tyne in Hebburn and Jarrow. The natural estuary edges were modified and as a result 95% of the saltmarsh has been lost. Our project, Hebburn Riverside Renewal is just the beginning as we to start to restore this balance and re-create these important natural habitats.

If further funding can be secured, the former staiths on the Viking Energy site could be fitted with nature-based solutions (man-made features that recreate or help to restore habitats) to improve the environment for wildlife. Existing features could be used – attaching manmade rockpools (vertipools) to the concrete and existing timber piles. The surface of the staithes could be enhanced to allow important birds to nest there.

The bay to the eastern end of the staithes could be re-graded so that a more natural slope is created which would then enable a saltmarsh to develop. Saltmarshes are one of the most effective habitats on earth for storing carbon in their soils, preventing it from entering the atmosphere and contributing to climate change. This project along with the wider TEP enhancements aim to improve the biodiversity and connectivity of these crucial intertidal habitats for the benefit of our wildlife, our climate and our local community.

Secured Funding 2020/21

In the Pipeline 2021/22: