Outstrays to Skeffling Managed Realignment Scheme

Closes 31 Dec 2022

Opened 20 Dec 2018

Overview

This page provides information about the Outstrays to Skeffling Managed Realignment Scheme (OtSMRS).  We have organised it to include current plans for the scheme (next section, below the newsletters) and a description of proposals developed prior to obtaining planning consent (lower down this page, under the heading ‘Earlier proposals for the scheme’).  These both describe the development of the scheme and how it has progressed since it was first conceived.

OtSMRS is a joint initiative developed by the Environment Agency (EA) and Associated British Ports (ABP) using a managed realignment approach to create new compensatory habitats for wildlife on the north bank of the Humber estuary, near Welwick and Skeffling. In total the project aims to create 175 hectares of intertidal habitat (mudflats and saltmarsh) and 75 hectares of ‘wet grassland’ as compensatory habitat

 

Recent updates and other downloadable documents

You can read the most recent newsletters and other important information about the scheme below:

September 2021

Details given of the public drop-in on 5th October to provide information about findings from archaeological surveys carried out on site this summer, also an update on construction of the scheme and repairs to the embankment on Sunk Island.

Your browser does not support inline PDF viewing. Please download the PDF.

August 2021

This newsletter starts with an update and then describes some of the archaeological survey work completed so far.

Your browser does not support inline PDF viewing. Please download the PDF.

July 2021 newsletter

This newsletter gives an update on work completed so far and further work to be done before the winter.

Your browser does not support inline PDF viewing. Please download the PDF.

May 2021 Construction Traffic Management Plan

Our contractors, JBA Bentley, arrived to start work on site at the beginning of May.  So we are attaching a summary of the Construction Traffic Management Plans, submitted to discharge planning conditions attached to the scheme.  This provides information on access routes to the site, vehicle movements and other details.

Your browser does not support inline PDF viewing.Please download the PDF.

 

April 2021 newsletter:

This newsletter provides information on work starting on site in May this year.

Your browser does not support inline PDF viewing.Please download the PDF.

 

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.

Your browser does not support inline PDF viewing.Please download the PDF.

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

You can read our repsonse to COVID 19 below:

Your browser does not support inline PDF viewing. Please download the PDF.

What is ‘managed realignment’?

‘Managed realignment’ means altering the location of existing flood defences.  In the case of OtSMRS, this involves building a new embankment further inland and then breaching the old embankment so that sea water can enter through the breach to enable the creation of new intertidal habitats.

 

The need for compensatory habitat

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 UK law, any habitat lost in the estuary as a result of human interventions must be replaced with compensatory habitat. In the case of the Environment Agency, this loss of habitat has been an inevitable consequence of building new flood defences in Hull and elsewhere around the estuary which, along with rising sea levels leads to a process known as ‘coastal squeeze’ (for a more detailed description of this, read the section on what was proposed in our earlier plans).  For Associated British Ports, the expansion and development of new port facilities around the estuary will also result in habitat loss. 

 

What types of habitat will be created

The project will create new areas of intertidal mudflats and saltmarsh on the estuary, along the coastline to the south of the villages of Welwick, Weeton and Skeffling. These types of habitat play a vital role in the functioning of the estuary’s ecosystem. They also provide food for a variety of rare and endangered bird species found within the estuary such as golden plovers, avocets and curlew.  Some bird species use the estuary as a resting point when migrating whilst others stop and overwinter on the Humber, coming from as far away as Greenland and other parts of the Arctic. 

Photo: Mudflats revealed at low tide on the Humber Estuary near Skeffling

As part of the scheme we also intend to create other types of habitat on the site such as wet grassland and high tide roosting sites.  These will provide a mosaic of different conditions to support a wider range of species including mammals and insects.

Once the site is built, we anticipate that it will be managed as a Local Nature Reserve.   This will ensure that the unique environment of the Humber Estuary is preserved and protected for future generations. The need for this is highlighted and further explained in the Humber Flood Risk Management Strategy (https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/308281/Humber_Strategy_Summary.pdf).

 

Other benefits from the scheme

In addition to habitat creation, the scheme offers several other benefits, including:

  • improved flood protection for residents in the Welwick, Weeton, Patrington Haven and Skeffling areas;
  • renovation of the Skeffling pumping station to increase its capacity;  
  • enabling future improvements in flood protection in the Humber Estuary, benefiting 400,000 residents living in the Humber flood plain
  • Supporting economic development of the Humber’s ports;  
  • better access and recreational facilities for visitors to the site;
  • Increased archaeological knowledge of the site resulting from surveys carried out before construction starts;  

 

Current plans for the OtSMRS

Your browser does not support inline PDF viewing. Please download the PDF.

Initial plans for the scheme involved creating compensatory habitat in two main areas on either side of Winestead Drain, labelled East and West on the map above.  Having obtained planning consent for both sides of the scheme in 2019, we have since been working with Associated British Ports to develop our plans for construction. In 2020 we reviewed these and made some changes.  The most significant of these has been to prioritise habitat creation on the eastern side, including the area of wet grassland habitat (labelled West 2).  We have therefore paused work on the western side until a later date.  You can find out more about this by reading our February 2021 briefing.

 

A timetable for construction

Building the scheme is a long and complicated process, lasting approximately three years with pauses in the winter months when environmental restrictions prevent construction taking place.

The first phase of construction starts this summer (2021).  Our contractors, JBA Bentley, are carrying out ground investigations and archaeological surveys of the area in order to inform the detailed design of the scheme.  Later this year they will also start work on constructing the area of ‘wet grassland’ habitat, north of Winestead Drain.

Photo: A vehicle conducting surveys along the 'footprint' of the new embankment

Work will be paused over the winter and resume in the spring of 2022 when we will start on the main focus area in the scheme, building new embankments and installing a drainage network on the eastern side. This work will take approximately two years to complete.

Construction should be completed by the end of 2024, when sections of the old embankment will be removed, allowing water to enter the new creek system and expand the area of intertidal mudflats and saltmarsh.

 

Construction Traffic Management Plan (CTMP)

In order to minimise impacts on local residents during the construction phase, we have drawn up a traffic management plan for moving vehicles, materials and people to and from the site. You can find a summary of the plan at the top of this page, in the section headed ‘Recent Updates’.

Photo: Bulldozers brought in to prepare land for the site compound

 

 

Earlier proposals for the scheme

The information below summarises earlier proposals for the Outstrays to Skeffling Managed Realignment Scheme, up to August 2019 when planning consent for the scheme was approved by East Riding of Yorkshire Council.   We have kept this part of the page to provide a record of how the scheme has developed and changed over time.

Please take a few minutes to watch our video which explains what the project is about:

 

What was proposed in 2019:

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.

Curlew

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)

 

Turnstones

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

 

Did you find this information page useful?

We are keen to understand whether on-line Information Pages are useful to you, and if this method for keeping you informed is successful.

We very much welcome your feedback on information pages and your feedback will help us to keep improving.

If you would like to give us some feedback please click on the link or download and return the feedback form below.

Give us your feedback

 

Audiences

  • Businesses
  • Charities
  • Statutory organisations
  • NGOs
  • Members of the public
  • Elected representatives, including MPs
  • Local councils
  • Academics

Interests

  • Flood management
  • Coastal management