Peel Ports, one of largest port operators in the UK, has announced it has signed an international sediment management pledge to more effectively manage the disposal of sediments as part of the necessary dredging of its ports and harbours.
The initiative, from Navigating a Changing Climate (a Global Climate Action partnership) and SedNet (a European Sediment network) brings together businesses, scientists and organisations involved in the management of sediments in coasts and waterways, globally.
The commitment from Peel Ports means that it will ensure it explores every opportunity to relocate the sediments extracted as part of its crucial dredging operations to places where they help protect natural habitats, across all its locations.
At the Port of Liverpool, Peel Ports has already established a Sediment Stakeholder Group to assess re-use options for maintenance dredged material. This group, which includes officials from the Environment Agency, Natural England and Local Authorities, helped to establish a scheme to deposit an estimated 400,000m3 of material annually at the Mid-River site in the Mersey Estuary, with the objective of sustaining the saltmarshes further upstream.
Gary Doyle, Group Harbour Master at Peel Ports Group said:
Maintenance dredging is critical to the functioning of our ports to maintain a safe navigable depth for vessels. Peel Ports recognises the importance of harnessing sediment as a tool for climate change adaptation.
The Mid-River scheme helps to retain sediment in the system and ‘Work with Nature’ to ensure that the Mersey Estuary, and local Sites of Special Scientific Interest and Special Protection Areas receive ample supply of sediment in order to meet their conservation objectives.
Peel Ports is proud to sign this Sediment Management Pledge to demonstrate our commitment to assess sustainable long term solutions for sediment management across each of our Ports.
Dr Elizabeth Hopley, Coastal Management, Renewables and Conservation Advice Senior Adviser, Natural England said:
Peel Ports are responsible for maintaining navigable depths within the River Mersey and the Crosby channel and the associated dock system. The Port of Liverpool sits at the entrance to the Mersey Estuary which is protected as a Special Protection Area for the bird features it supports. Its vast mudflats and salt marsh provide both an important feeding and roosting ground for bird populations in numbers of European significance.
To maintain these habitats it is vital that their sediment supply is not disrupted, even more so with the pressures of climate change. Natural England has been working with the Mersey team at Peel Ports as part of a working group with other interested bodies since 2011 to understand how the port activities may be most effectively managed to maintain this supply and explore opportunities for beneficial use.
The stakeholder group has been extremely effective in opening dialogue about opportunities and exploring the evidence and processes to involve change. The disposal of sediment within the estuary has been increased through changing dredge practices through the use of Water Injection Dredging and reviewing the location where dredge material is disposed of by other methods. This has increased the resilience of this habitat to climate pressures.
We would encourage other port operators to learn from the good example set by the sediment management group.
Peel Ports has been awarded the PIANC ‘Working with Nature’ accolade to recognise the work it does in this area.
Similar beneficial use schemes and steering groups and now being set up across all of Peel Ports estates.