Outstrays to Skeffling Managed Realignment Scheme

Closes 31 Dec 2022

Opened 20 Dec 2018


February 2021:  Update on changes to the scheme

Please read the attached briefing which outlines some changes we and our partner, Associated British Ports, have made to the scheme.

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2021 Update: temporary closure of this page

Between the end of December 2020 and 12th January, this page was temporarily unavailable.  Apologies for this; we have extended the lifespan of the page and will update the contents this month. 

COVID-19 Update

During the Coronavirus pandemic, the Environment Agency is following government guidance to reduce the risk of spreading the virus and have adapted our working practices to meet all requirements.  Our priorities are to protect the health, safety and wellbeing of our staff, our partners, businesses and the communities we work in.

This means that we continue to be prepared to respond to an environmental incident such as flooding or pollution.  You can still report any incidents on the telephone numbers given below.

We are also following government instructions to continue working on the construction and maintenance of flood risk management schemes.  These are essential to protect lives and livelihoods.   If you see our staff or our contractors working on site, you can be sure that they are following safe ways of working and will not put anyone at risk. If the work cannot be done safely, it will stop.

Please accept our assurance that we are doing all we can to ensure work continues as much as possible, and that any delays caused by the pandemic are kept to an absolute minimum. 

We will continue to review the situation in light of further advice from the government. Our latest position is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/environment-agency

Customer service line: 03708 506 506

Incident hotline: 0800 80 70 60

Floodline: 03459 881188


This page provides a summary of proposals for the Outstrays to Skeffling Managed Realignment Scheme.   Please take a few minutes to watch our video which explains what the project is about:


What’s proposed:

The Outstrays to Skeffling Managed Realignment Scheme is a joint initiative proposed by the Environment Agency (EA) and Associated British Ports (ABP) to create 400 hectares (9,600 acres) of new mudflats and saltmarsh on the north bank of the Humber estuary, near Skeffling.  ‘Managed realignment’ means altering the location of existing flood defences.  In the case of Skeffling, this involves moving the embankment further inland to establish a new line of defence and then breaching the old embankment so that sea water can enter through the breach to facilitate the creation of intertidal habitat.

   Plan of the Outstrays to Skeffling Managed Realignment Scheme

The site between Outstrays and Skeffling was chosen for a managed realignment scheme because the land levels are suitable.  It is divided into three distinct areas, shown on the map above:

  • the western side (from Hawkins Point to Winestead pumping station, labelled as West 1);
  • a middle area of wet grassland habitat (above high tide levels and included in the scheme to increase the range of habitats on the site and provide the right conditions for rare species, labelled as West 2);
  • and the eastern side, extending up to Skeffling pumping station (labelled as East 1, 2 and 3).

The Humber Estuary is recognised as one of the most important estuaries for wildlife in Europe and has been designated as a site of nature conservation under both national and international legislation. Under the Habitats Directive (2010), the Environment Agency and Associated British Ports are legally obliged to replace any habitat lost as a result of our interventions in the estuary, such as the expansion of port facilities, and by a process called ‘coastal squeeze’.  This occurs where the high water mark is fixed by a flood defence structure such as a wall and the low water mark moves landwards as the sea level rises, leading to a loss of intertidal habitat. The figure below illustrates this process.

Creating new areas of habitat to compensate for those lost will ensure that the unique environment of the Humber estuary is preserved and protected for future populations of wildlife and people.  The need for this is highlighted and further explained in the Humber Flood Risk Management Strategy

Habitat creation

The scheme will create new areas of saltmarsh and mudflat. These will provide habitats and food for a variety of bird species found within the estuary such as golden plovers, turnstones, ringed plover, lapwing, teal, avocets and curlew.  Some of these species use the estuary as a resting point whilst migrating and others stop and overwinter on the Humber. They come from northern locations such as Scandinavia, Iceland, Greenland and the Arctic.


Other types of habitat (wet grassland and high tide roosting sites) will also be created on the site to provide a mosaic of different conditions supporting populations of redshank, knot and dunlin. Once the site is built, we hope that the area will be managed as a Local Nature Reserve.  


Redshank (photo provided by PJ Willoughby)



Wider scheme benefits

In addition to creating new habitats for wildlife, the scheme offers other benefits.  These include:

  • improved flood protection for residents in the Welwick, Weeton and Skeffling areas;
  • better access and facilities for recreational visits to the new nature reserve;
  • opportunities to improve drainage on adjacent agricultural land;
  • opportunities for industrial growth and development in the ports around the Humber estuary, creating jobs and economic prosperity in East Yorkshire;
  • enabling improvements in flood protection to be built in Hull and other urban centres, benefiting 400,000 residents living in the Humber flood plain.

Horse riders on the embankment


The view along the embankment towards Hawkins Point

The design process

The design for the scheme has been developed over several years. In order to inform this process, we have carried out a range of investigations including: 

  • Tidal modelling – studying how the water will move onto and around the site once the scheme is built; 
  • Archaeology – investigating and recording any features of historical interest on the site;
  • Environmental investigations – to understand what animals and plants are found in the area and what measures we need to put in place to protect them or relocate them whilst the scheme is being built;
  • Ground conditions – we have undertaken tests within the site area to understand what we are building on and to establish whether we can use material found within the site rather than importing materials from outside.

Involving local communities

Whilst developing the designs for the scheme, we have engaged with many different people and organisations in the area to provide them with up-to-date information and give everyone an opportunity to contribute their views.

Over the past few years we have listened to and considered ideas and suggestions from the public and local organisations on ways to improve the design of the scheme. As well as producing newsletters to report on progress with the scheme, we have held regular events in the area, including Q&A style ‘surgeries’ and public ‘drop-ins’.  These have given us the opportunity to provide updates on our plans, listen to the views of residents and answer questions. We have subsequently taken on board feedback from these public sessions and used this information to review and reshape our plans.

Displays in Welwick Village Hall in 2017

In the summer of 2017, we organised workshops to give residents and local groups a chance to comment on our early designs and suggest ways in which the scheme could be enhanced.

A particular concern highlighted by residents was the location of public access routes in the new scheme. In the original design for the eastern side of the scheme, the path for walkers and horse riders ran along the bottom of the (inner) ‘toe’ side of the new embankment. This route was chosen to minimise disturbance to bird populations but would have resulted in a loss of views across the estuary for human visitors. To resolve this problem, we sought advice from a wide range of experts and conservation bodies.  We then redesigned access routes to balance the demands for conservation and public access.  The result was that over 70% of the new route now follows the top of the embankment.  The path only goes down onto the ‘toe’ side where it is near to sensitive areas for wildlife (shown on the map below). It will be designated as a bridleway and surfaced in key places to ensure disabled visitors can access the site. It will also be fenced so that dog owners can let their dogs off the lead without disturbing birds.

Proposed access routes on the site

In March 2019 we submitted two separate planning applications for the scheme to East Riding of Yorkshire Council (ERYC), one for the west side and one for the east. In August that year both of these planning applications (one for the eastern side and the other for the west) were approved by ERYC’s Planning Committee. This will enable us to create an important mixture of habitat for birds and other wildlife, helping maintain the unique nature of the Humber Estuary.  It is also great news for communities along the north bank of the Humber estuary at risk of flooding because the compensatory habitat created by the scheme will allow further flood alleviation schemes to be built.

Prior to submiting these applications, we conducted an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and presented the results from this in an Environmental Statement (ES). This describes all the environmental impacts likely to result from the scheme during construction and after it is completed. It also includes mitigation measures, setting out how we will avoid or minimise some of the possible impacts resulting from construction of the scheme.  The Environmental Statement was submitted along with our planning applications to ERYC.  A Non-Technical Summary of the Environmental Statement can be accessed here

Before the planning applications were submitted, we held a series of public events in the area in February.  These gave residents and other interested organisations the chance to see our designs for the project and to ask questions or clarify details. 

We will continue to communicate with local residents, interested organisations and parish councils as the project progresses. You can find a copy of our April 2020 newsletter here:

If you would like to receive these in future, please email us at Welwick.Skeffling@environment-agency.gov.uk and we will add your email address to the list. Or you can contact us by phone, using the contact details given below.

In October 2019 we held a workshop with interested local organisations to explore ideas for the design of an area of terrestrial habitat, which is part of the scheme  (also known as 'wet grassland', shown as West 2 on the map at the top of this page).  From this we gathered lots of information which we have used to develop the design of this area in more detail.  This plan has been submitted to East Riding of Yorkshire Council for approval before work begins on the scheme.


Discussion with JBA Bentley's ecologist during the terrestrial habitat workshop held in Welwick Village Hall

When will work start on the scheme?

Building the scheme is likely to be a long and complicated process, lasting two to three years.  As a result of delays during 2020 the first phase of construction will start in the spring of 2021.   We envisage the project will be completed by the autumn of 2023.

We want to ensure that any impacts on local residents from the construction phase are kept to a minimum.  So we will work closely with East Riding of Yorkshire Council to draw up a traffic plan for moving vehicles, materials and people to and from the site; this is one of the conditions for planning consent. We will also make sure that communication channels remain open once work starts on site and that residents and local organisations can pass on any issues or concerns arising during the construction phase.

Project timeline:

Winter 2018

Completion of first phase of ground investigations

Dec 2018

Environmental Impact Assessment completed

Jan/Feb 2019

Drop-ins prior to planning application submission

Feb/Mar 2019

Planning applications submitted to ERYC

August 2019

Planning approval given by ERYC's Planning Committee.  Further ground investigation starts on site. 

Spring 2021

Construction begins

End of 2023

Construction completed (estimated but could extend into 2024)

Contact us:

If you want to get in touch with the project team you can contact us by email at:  Welwick.Skeffling@environment-agency.gov.uk

Or phone our Natiional Customer Contact Centre on 03708 506506 and ask for:         

  • Nikky Wilson, Engagement Specialist, or      
  • Andrew Gee, Project Manager


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