Works begin to desilt the Reigh Burn

In an effort to alleviate the long-standing flooding issues of the Reigh Burn in Tyne Riverside Country Park, Urban Green Newcastle has appointed WL Straughan to carry out desilting works for around four weeks from Monday 10 January.

Problems at this site, which is both reclaimed land and low-lying, have been ongoing since at least 1989, and are becoming increasingly complex. There appear to be multiple issues causing the flooding, including rising mine-water and discharge, a build-up of silt within and from adjoining tributaries, and a failing sewerage pipe impeding flow, all compounding the impacts of climate change causing wetter conditions.

Urban Green Newcastle took over management of the site in 2019, and throughout the winter of 2020/21 we worked closely with Newcastle City Council’s Flood Management Team to repeat the de-silting works which have previously been effective in alleviating the issue temporarily. Unfortunately, other factors (such as the rate of silt being washed into the Reigh Burn) mean that these measures are no longer proving to be effective for any meaningful length of time.

In close liasion with the Environment Agency, Newcastle City Council and other partners, Urban Green Newcastle has now commissioned more extensive works.  We have had to work through many complex factors, including potential contamination, ecological impact and overhead high voltage power lines, to ensure that the works can proceed safely. Works will include carefully creating access to the burn and desilting over 200m in length, retaining removed material onsite within the adjacent field.  

While we hope these works will alleviate the worst of the flooding for this year, we are aware that this is still a short-term fix, and the situation clearly requires a long-term sustainable solution.

A multi-stakeholder group was formed in 2021, chaired by the Environment Agency and attended by representatives of Urban Green Newcastle, Newcastle City Council Flood Management Team, the Coal Authority, Northumbrian Water, Heddon Haugh Farm, Savills, Tyne Rivers Trust and National Grid. The Group will have their second meeting to explore long-term solutions later this month. While this may take some time, we hope that, ultimately, we will find a way that all of the organisations and landowners involved can work together with the aim of finding a long-term, sustainable solution.

We will be updating our related FAQ as and when we have updates on the situation.