CEDA Iberian Conference

Dredging for sustainable port development


27-28 October 2016, Lisbon, Portugal

Steve Gilbert, Conservation Programme Manager, RSPB. United Kingdom

Despite historical instances of conflicts between the dredging and excavated materials industries and nature conservation organisations, there are in fact many opportunities for collaboration between these interests for the benefit of both. In recent years the RSPB, a major UK non-governmental conservation charity, has been a partner in several innovative projects delivering multiple benefits, including environmental outcomes. These have involved the use of dredged materials from river based campaigns, but also excavated materials arising from current or proposed major infrastructure projects.

Two case studies will be described from the RSPB’s experience in the UK, namely the Cliffe Pools Project in Kent and Wallasea Island Wild Coast in Essex. Both projects, which are still in the process of delivery, have involved joint working by the RSPB and commercial partners.  

At Cliffe Pools, a former cement industry extraction site, an ambitious habitat restoration project is dependant upon the import and landscaping of large volumes of excavated materials. A long standing partnership between the RSPB and Boskalis Westminster has led to significant enhancement of the site through the deposit of river dredgings, but much more is required and, in an initiative also involving partnership with neighbouring landowner Brett, opportunities are being investigated to source suitable excavated materials from major infrastructure projects such as the Thames Tideway Tunnel. Around six million tonnes/2.5 million cubic metres is required in total.

The Wallasea Island project involves the transformation of 670 hectares of arable farmland to coastal marsh by major landform changes and the removal of seawalls. Between 2011 and 2015, in partnership with Crossrail, over three million tonnes/1.25 million cubic metres of excavated materials were brought onto the site by way of a temporary jetty to raise the land and create lagoons and other habitats. Further materials will be required in the period to 2025 to complete one of the largest projects of its type in Europe.

The RSPB will continue to work with new and existing commercial partners in the dredging and excavated materials sector to deliver further large-scale conservation projects.   

Last update: 3 October 2016