Yesterday evening BBC Look North positively featured the announcement made by Natural England to confirm the notification of Teesmouth and Cleveland Coast Site of Scientific Interest (SSSI). The broadcast piece features interviews with Natural England Area Manager Steph Bird-Halton, representatives from the Industry Nature Conservation Association and a manager of Venator, a chemical plant situated near the site, who highlights the SSSI showcases industry and nature living sustainably side-by-side, allowing wildlife to thrive.
The announcement has also received positive coverage in the Hartlepool Mail, Teesside Live and Mirage News. The articles highlight that the unique environment of the Tees Estuary, where industrial facilities share the landscape with a wide range of coastal habitats teeming with wildlife, has been given extra environmental protection. This follows Natural England and partners conservation achievements to restore the wildlife of the Tees Estuary by confirming Teesmouth and Cleveland Coast SSSI status.
Steph Bird-Halton, Natural England’s Area Manager for Northumbria said:
This is the culmination of many years’ work by a wide range of partners to protect and create habitat in one of England’s most surprising places for wildlife. The Tees Estuary shows how sustainable development can go hand-in-hand with environmental enhancement, exemplified by the return of harbour seal to the estuary in the 1980s, and the colonisation by avocet in the 21st century.
The SSSI, together with the new ways of working enshrined in the Tees Estuary Partnership, will help secure the future of this world-class landscape for nature. The newly-opened stretch of the England Coast Path will showcase the area’s wildlife - and the tireless work of site managers to look after it - to local people and visitors from further afield.
Natural England sees the confirmation of the SSSI as a celebration of our partners’ commitment to nature conservation, and as a springboard to future successes for the Tees Estuary Partnership.
Natural England board member Dr Andy Clements said:
Protecting this landscape-scale site of intertidal mudflats and coastal habitats is a significant step forward for the region. The outstanding work of Natural England staff and our partners has achieved a great outcome for wildlife alongside the strong industrial heritage of the area, and will help to provide recreation and well-being benefits for local communities. That encapsulates what Natural England is all about.
Through this notification, seven SSSIs protecting parts of the Tees Estuary have now been merged and expanded into one single, landscape scale SSSI, totalling almost 3,000 hectares to contribute to sustainable development of this key area for the national economy. The extensions have more than doubled the area of the SSSI to now protect additional areas of sand-dune, saltmarsh, mudflat, grassland, lagoons and estuarial waters, alongside populations of breeding and wintering birds, the iconic population of harbour seals and sand-dune invertebrates.
The Teesmouth and Cleveland Coast SSSI will ensure that the abundant wildlife of the Tees Estuary has a secure future and will make a strong contribution to the ‘blue belt’ of marine protected areas around England.