£1m project to bring boost for wildlife and water quality starts


The Billingham Beck Valley Country Park habitat restoration project will boost wildlife and biodiversity and support water quality improvements at Billingham Beck and Thorpe Beck, which are tributaries of the River Tees.

The £1million project, led by the Environment Agency in partnership with Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council and National Highways, will be complete by the autumn.  

It’s part of the £30m Tees Tidelands Programme, a groundbreaking set of projects officially launched in November, which will help the River Tees Estuary adapt to climate change, restore valuable habitat for internationally important wildlife and reconnect the river’s tributaries.

The Billingham Beck project includes:

  • Partly removing an historic weir to open up 55km of river for migrating fish from the River Tees.
  • Woody debris dams and new shallow ditches to reconnect Billingham Beck to floodplains, restoring areas of wetland.
  • An upgraded network of footpaths and improved landscaping to enhance access and public enjoyment of the site and reconnect people to the beck.
  • Improved vehicle access for easier maintenance of the new wetlands.

The watercourses in this area have been historically modified with channels straightened and deepened and the introduction of culverts and a weir, with the loss of wetland habitat having an adverse effect on the ecology and restricting fish movement.

‘Exciting project’ will bring ‘much-needed boost’

Paul Eckersley, project manager for the Environment Agency, said:

This exciting project will bring a much-needed boost to biodiversity and water quality after decades of modification saw precious habitat lost.

Working with our partners, we’re creating new wetlands and making it more accessible for the community. Removing the weir will open up the watercourse for migrating fish and other species.

This project is one part of a much wider programme of work to bring multiple benefits to the area through Tees Tidelands, which also includes realigning flood defences and restoring mudflat and saltmarsh habitat.

Councillor Clare Gamble, Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council’s cabinet member for environment and transport, added:

Billingham Beck Valley has long been known as an area rich in wildlife and we’re delighted to be involved in this project, which will see the wetland at the Country Park restored, improving habitats for all species.

This work forms part of our Environmental Sustainability and Carbon Reduction Strategy. It’s great to be working on this project alongside partners who share the same ambition to protect and enhance the environment, one of the key aims of the strategy.

Most of the funding for the project has come from National Highways Designated Funds which has approved £906,000 for feasibility, detailed design and implementation. The project has been aligned with its scheme to improve the A19 between Norton and Wynyard to create a better journey for drivers, ensuring it also provides benefits for the environment.

National Highways Project Manager Connor Walls said:

We’re delighted to see the start of work on Billingham Beck. Environmental sustainability is key to everything we do and through supporting this fantastic community green space, we’ll be helping improve local biodiversity and bring benefits to the wider community and the area’s wildlife.

Source: Environment Agency 5th March 2024