Coastal management project will enhance Steart Peninsular

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Working on behalf of the Environment Agency, Team Van Oord has started work on a project to provide flood defence and a new wildlife habitat on the Steart Peninsular in North Somerset.

Over the next two years the £18m Steart Coastal Management Project will create more than 400 hectares of wildlife-rich habitats including saltmarsh and freshwater wetland. These internationally important habitats provide vital feeding and breeding grounds for wading birds and wildfowl as well as homes for animals such as water voles and Great Crested Newts. The new intertidal habitat will also enhance the recreational and amenity value of the Steart Peninsula.

Between 300 and 600 hectares of wetland habitat needs to be created in the Severn Estuary over the next 20 years to compensate for the loss of existing saltmarsh and mudflats through rising sea levels, and the construction of new coastal flood defences.

The project also provides set-back defences to enable the Environment Agency to manage flood risks to people and property on the peninsular. The defences will also help those living and working in the area to adapt to sea level rises and plan for the future.

Philip Ramsay, Team Van Oord contracts manager for the south west, said: “We have been working as part of the integrated project team for the past year.

“During that time we have assisted with the development of the design and detailed planning of the overall scheme, and have developed procedures for advanced ecological mitigation across the peninsular. Before heavy construction activities commence, we will have cleared the area of all protected species, including translocation of several hundred Great Crested Newts to new and existing receptor ponds outside the footprint of the works.

“We’ve also constructed a 150m long and 4m high trial section of the main embankment to help us understand the characteristics of the foundation soils and to determine the specification of the final works to be constructed.”

Pre-construction surveys and mitigation works which include archaeology, unexploded ordnance, and topographic surveys have been carried out across the peninsular.

The area has a significant archaeological history which must be recorded, and was a practice bombing range during WW2 and after the war. These are significant potential risks that the advanced works contract has mitigated prior to construction of the new habitat.

Carrying out these works as an advanced contract will allow the main works to proceed with minimal risk of delays due to unforeseen constraints.

May 2012