Resisting erosion and global warming by restoring a scientifically significant salt marsh
Throughout the UK, salt marshes protect coastal areas from erosion by acting as a buffer against waves and reducing flooding by slowing and absorbing rainwater. They are important transitional habitats between the ocean and the land, and a nursery area for fish, crustaceans and insects. However, global warming poses a very real risk to these ecologically and economically important coastal areas, so UK salt marshes must be protected.
When an RSK client installed cabling connecting wind farm substations, a salt marsh in a special scientific interest area was unintentionally damaged. RSK set about devising a solution for restoring the salt marsh. The team’s mitigation work was widespread and varied. Waiting for low tide, the team assessed the damage and formed a plan that would identify low-impact restoration measures, eliminate pooling and encourage colonisation by Atlantic salt meadow species. Work included
• designing low-impact silt traps to accrete silt, which reduces the water levels at high tide and encourages the colonisation of bare ground
• collecting and laying dead plant debris in flooded pools to reduce water
• supplying and installing four custom silt traps across rutted areas
• supplying and installing dead plant material silt traps and anchoring them in place using jute netting
• draining pools by unblocking channels and opening up grips using hand tools.
Natural England was satisfied with the work and discharged an associated licence to operate. The client was thrilled: “RSK’s ability to provide a turnkey approach was of huge value on this sensitive restoration project. The work was carried out efficiently, effectively and safely. There were no complaints from the regulator or local stakeholders. We look forward to these effects helping to successfully restore the saltmarsh.”