Dredging for the South Bank heavy lift quay

What is dredging?

Dredging is the excavation and removal of sediments, debris and other materials from the bottom of the river or sea. Every year, millions of tonnes of material are dredged and disposed of at sea as part of the maintenance of the River Tees. Approximately 40-50 million m³ of sediment is dredged from ports and harbours around the UK each year, the vast majority of which is disposed of at sea as a waste product.

Why are we doing it?

On 1 September 2022, Teesworks began dredging for the first time ever for the construction of a new £107million heavy-lift South Bank Quay. This quay will serve SeAH Wind Ltd’s mammoth £450million offshore wind turbine monopile factory, as well as future offshore developments. SeAH Wind alone will bring 750 direct jobs when operational, and 1,500 more in the supply chain and during construction.

What is being dredged?

The first phase of dredging which is now complete is part of what is known as capital dredging – which is dredging carried out to enable new schemes like the South Bank Quay. This first scheme was the first dredging work being carried out by Teesworks in the River Tees. PD Ports regularly undertakes Maintenance dredging as the Statutory Harbour Authority with control of the River Tees. This is in respect of the river’s upkeep, maintaining all navigational channels to a safe depth and ensuring that the river can continue to be used by the businesses and necessary shipping traffic. Capital dredging, carried out by numerous organisations along the River Tees, is a common occurrence and has happened many times over recent years.

Where is being dredged?

The dredging will continue to take place in the river adjacent to the under-construction South Bank Quay, coloured red in this diagram.

South Bank Quay

Have all permissions been granted?

Yes. To undertake dredging, licences must be secured from Government’s Marine Management Organisation and all work must be carried out in accordance with that licence. These licences usually take around 18 months to secure and come after significant public consultation with statutory bodies including the Environment Agency, Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Agriculture and Natural England. Teesworks has now been granted such a licence so it can begin its first-ever dredging to facilitate the South Bank Quay. All information, licences and other documentation is all publicly available here -> https://marinelicensing.marinemanagement.org.uk/mmofox5/fox/live/MMO_PUBLIC_REGISTER/view-case?case_ref=MLA/2020/00506 

The type of dredging undertaken in the first phase was enclosed bucket dredging. This saw the 125,000 m³ of dredged material taken from an exclusion zone defined by the MMO, taken from the river and disposed of on land. None of the 125,000 m³ was disposed of either in the river or the sea.

Who is carrying out the works?

Civil engineering firm Graham – which has considerable experience and are already working on the Teesworks site – are undertaking the dredging on behalf of the South Tees Development Corporation. This was the first dredging work being undertaken by Teesworks in the river Tees.

When is the work being carried out?

Teesworks’ first-ever dredging work commenced on 1 September 2022 and took around eight weeks to complete – ending on November 9. We did not receive any reports of problems in this time.

Excavation works using machinery have continued on the riverbank after the dredging operation. These works are outside the contaminated exclusion zone for the dredge. There is no evidence of contamination in this area – and these pile extraction works were done in situ.

The MMO says in general, pile and infrastructure removal poses less risk in resuspending materials due to the localised nature of the activities. This is because material disturbed generally settles in the area directly around the activity, and it is important to distinguish the different scales of dredging work and pile removal. These piling works are outside the contaminated exclusion zone in any case.

Next year, around 900,000 m³ of material will be dredged from the Tees and disposed of at sea in the approved disposal location. Again, this is all in accordance with our MMO Licence. All information, licences and other documentation is all publicly available here -> https://marinelicensing.marinemanagement.org.uk/mmofox5/fox/live/MMO_PUBLIC_REGISTER/view-case?case_ref=MLA/2020/00506 

Presentation on dredging activity and work at the South Bank Quay 

A presentation on the South Bank Quay project was shown to the TVCA Overview and Scrutiny Committee on Thursday, 12 January, 2023.

More here: OSC – SBQ Presentation (Jan-23)_Final

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