As part of the R3AW research we are interviewing a wide range of stakeholders to understand how they view the prospects for deployment of the remediation and resource recovery technology that we are developing here at the University of Hull.
Dr Pauline Deutz at Coatham Marsh
So with that in mind Dr Pauline Deutz and I set off up to Tees Valley Wildlife Trust to find out about their experiences of managing a site which was formed by the legacy of Redcar’s industrial past, but is affected by leachate from historic steel slag. After having driven over the spectacular North York Moors we pulled up outside the Trust’s offices and were warmly welcome with an offer of a much-needed cup of coffee. Our interviewee, who heads up the team at the Tees Valley Wildlife Trust, spoke to us for over an hour about the issues pertaining to managing such a complex site, which is bordered by Redcar town on one side and Redcar Steelworks on the other. Coatham Marsh is home to a myriad of wildflowers and over 200 species of birds as well as providing a haven for small mammals and invertebrates . Protecting sites such as this from the effects of legacy steel slag while recovering valuable resources is fundamental to the approach being taken by the R3AW research team. The experiences and thoughts of stakeholders like Tees Valley Wildlife Trust are helping us to understand how the current policy and regulatory environment is working and what other factors influence the way in which areas impacted by historic and legacy steel slag off being managed.
Looking out from Coatham March to the steel works
After we had to finished the interview we were given directions on how to get to Coatham Marsh so we could see for ourselves the work being done by Tees Valley Wildlife Trust and understand the interesting geography of the site which is bisected by a railway line! Once we found our way to the site, we were greeted by steel sculptures including, reeds and even a pair of walking boots and a rucksack. Despite dullness of the day and the ever threatening prospect of a downpour the site itself provided us with ample colour with displays of wildflowers, ponds and reed beds. Looking east out over the sea provided us with a dramatic view of offshore wind turbines and the view to the north the Redcar Steelworks. We explored the site for over an hour seeing the variety of flora and fauna that Coatham Marsh is home to. The impact that the legacy from the steel slag that surrounds site is something that the research of the R3AW project will hopefully be able to resolve so that sites like this can continue to provide a home for wildlife and a resource for local people into the future. Coatham provides a dramatic illustration of the way in which industry has shaped the environment and is continuing to do so, juxtaposing the rich and biodiverse Marsh with the Redcar Steelworks and Teesside Offshore wind farm.
We would like to thank Tees Valley wildlife trust for sparing the time to talk to us, the contribution of stakeholders and their willingness to talk to us as part of this research project is much appreciated by everyone on the R3AW team.
Written by Dr Helen Baxter, University of Hull.