A £2.5m essential upgrade of the sewerage network in a County Durham town is due to start next month.
Northumbrian Water’s work at Castle Eden Dene National Nature Reserve near Peterlee, which is owned and managed by Natural England, will involve replacing existing pipework that is currently in poor repair and is at risk from causing pollution into Castle Eden Burn.
Work carried out by Northumbrian Water’s contractors, Mott MacDonald Bentley (MMB), will do what is necessary to protect and retain existing native woodland, to help it form an integral part of the more diverse natural environment.
The company is working in partnership with Natural England and its own conservation team regarding the timing of the project, which will start on Monday 12 September, 2016 and run until May 2017.
The work will necessitate the removal of trees including non-native conifers that were planted in the reserve in the 1970s. The work is planned to maximise benefits for wildlife, including songbird species such as long tailed tit and chiff chaff and invertebrates such as the rare dingy skipper by reshaping the natural environment.
The project will require the creation of site entrances and exits from Durham Way, to access the land on the north side of Castle Eden Dene. Northumbrian Water will work with Natural England to restore these, once work is completed.
Sean Barry, Northumbrian Water’s project manager, said: “This project will help to protect the dene and the burn which runs through it, from future risks of pollution.
“As someone who grew up in the area and still lives close to Castle Eden Dene, I know how important the conservation of the site is to residents and visitors, so while this is a delicate project, it will be handled with care and I look forward to leaving the dene ready for the return and resurgence of its natural species.”
Chris Evans, Senior Reserve Manager at Natural England, said: “This project is a great example of how Natural England is working in partnership with Northumbrian Water across the North East. We will be working closely with their team and are confident there will be real benefits for wildlife on the site once works are complete”.
A special public event for people to find out more about the project will be held at Natural England’s site offices, on Stanhope Chase, Peterlee, on Monday, August 22, 2pm till 7pm at the National Nature Reserve Offices, Oakerside Dene Lodge, Stanhope Chase, Peterlee, SR8 1NJ. An online community portal at www.nwlcommunityportal.co.uk will also allow people to keep up to date with the work.
For further media information, contact Paul White on 0191 3015325.
About Natural England
Established in 2006, Natural England is the government’s independent adviser on the natural environment. Our work is focused on enhancing England’s wildlife and landscapes and maximizing the benefits they bring to the public.
We establish and care for England’s main wildlife and geological sites, ensuring that over 4,000 National Nature Reserves (NNRs) and Sites of Special Scientific Interest are looked after and improved. All of England’s NNRs form part of a UK wide network of nature reserves covering England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
We work to ensure that England’s landscapes are effectively protected, designating England’s National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and advising widely on their conservation.
We run Countryside Stewardship and other green farming schemes that deliver over £400 million a year to farmers and landowners, enabling them to enhance the natural environment across two thirds of England’s farmland.
We fund, manage, and provide scientific expertise for hundreds of conservation projects each year, improving the prospects for thousands of England’s species and habitats.
We promote access to the wider countryside, helping establish National Trails and coastal trails and ensuring that the public can enjoy and benefit from them.
About Castle Eden Dene National Nature Reserve
This mysterious tangled landscape of trees, rocky outcrops and steep cliffs is a sensational survivor of ‘the wildwood’ that once covered much of Britain. Yew, oak, ash and dying elm create a home for other plants and creatures. 10,000 years of wild growth in a deep gorge has created a place you can explore again and again.
The reserve covers 221 hectares of woodland and lowland grassland, where post-glacial melt waters have carved out some spectacular limestone cliffs and gorges. The Dene is 3.5 miles (5.6 kilometres) long and is the largest of a series of valleys which run down to the coast between Sunderland and Hartlepool, reaching the sea at Denemouth.