Crossing the MerseyTuesday 29 November 2016
Students from Liverpool Hope's MSc Ecology and Environmental Management, a course accredited by the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM), joined environmental professionals on a CIEEM visit to the Mersey Gateway Project.
Students saw first hand the project to construct a new six lane toll cable-stayed bridge over the river Mersey between the towns of Runcorn and Widnes, along with the construction of associated road works either side of the river to support the increased traffic expected to utilise the new river crossing.
The bridge is one part of a thirty year £1.86 billion project including the cost of land, construction, operation, maintenance and finance. The new crossing will be open in autumn 2017, but it is already starting to bring major environmental benefits to the local area. The visit focussed on the impact of the construction of bridge piers on the saltmarsh habitat of the Upper Mersey Estuary, and the saltmarsh restoration plan as a response to this impact.
The long term ecological management and monitoring of the Bridge will be carried out by a new charitable trust, the Mersey Gateway Environmental Trust. This is a unique new charity created to promote the conservation, protection and improvement of the environment across a 1600 hectare area of the Upper Mersey Estuary running from the new bridge up river to Warrington. The Trust, which will also manage a new 28.5 hectare nature reserve alongside the bridge, is unique for a major construction project in the UK.
Paul Rooney, Deputy Head of Geography and Environmental Science at Liverpool Hope and the North West Section Convenor of CIEEM, organised the event with the visit leaders Paul Oldfield, Environment Manager for the Mersey Gateway Crossings Board and a graduate of the MSc at Hope, and staff from AECOM, a multinational engineering firm that provides design, consulting, construction, and management services. The staff from AECOM were the Ecologists Dr Mark Hampton and Dr Damian Smith, and the Aquatic Ecologist Dr Joana Capela.
Paul Rooney said: “The visit was a fantastic opportunity for our MSc students to network with ecology and environmental professionals, and to gain an insight in to how the environmental impacts of a major construction project are mitigated. The long term benefits of this project are very impressive, not only in terms of environmental gain but for the regional economy”.
Mersey Gateway Project http://www.merseygateway.co.uk/
Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management http://www.cieem.net/