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Conservation & the Environment Lymington Salt Marsh Recharge/Habitat

As part of the habitat improvement and erosion protection works associated with Wightlink Ltd.’s investment into upgraded ferry facilities in Lymington -(Lymington to Yarmouth IOW Service), Land and Water Services Ltd (LAWS) were contracted for the first phase of the saltmarsh restoration works.

The works comprised the collection of dredged spoils from marinas’ within the Lymington Reach and their translocation by shallow drafted barges to the Boiler Marsh which was at the Estuary Mouth in a location that was relatively difficult to access. Here the sediments were discharged by a pontoon mounted pump-ashore unit, into a shallow basin of eroded marsh which LAWS had carefully placed sediment retention fences using natural materials.

This sediment recharge project was undertaken in February and March 2012 as part of a series of precautionary measures to ensure that the integrity of the Solent Maritime European Marine Site (EMS) was not adversely affected by the proposed operation of the Lymington to Yarmouth Wightlink W-Class ferry service. The delivery of the works was sensitively timed between the periods when overwintering and breeding birds were using the site and involved considerable liaison between the Regulators, the Client, The Harbour Master, ABP mer (advisory consultant) and LAWS.

Land and Water Services Ltd were employed as Principal Contractor by the client ‘Wightlink’ to carry out these works beginning in February 2012 using their experience in working in this often hostile and remote environment. Land and Water Services were able to supply all the specialist equipment and expertise necessary to complete the contract in-house.

The first challenge was the installation of the sediment retaining structures which were constructed using straw and heather bales secured with chestnut stakes. These structures were sensitively positioned across inlets and channels. These structures serve to retain the recharge materials that were pumped into the eroding marsh and in the future will help to encourage natural settlement and also to reduce the wave energy exposure of the eroding marsh habitat.

Natural erosion protection fences installed in eroded area of saltmarsh at Lymington

LAWS mobilised one of their specialist amphibious excavators to construct the retaining structures as described above. The low ground pressure machine travelled across the estuary and worked comfortably in the soft terrain with the minimum of impact. The excavator was also used to deploy and position the discharge pipeline across the saltmarsh.

Overview of Boiler Saltmarsh and pumping set up. 36

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