The Mersey Gateway Environmental Trust is delivering a range of different projects across the area. These projects will ensure that the Mersey Estuary and local wildlife are protected throughout the project and beyond.
The Trust will develop partnerships with organisations like the Cheshire Wildlife Trust, local schools and Universities and environmental groups to engage the local community on environmental issues.
During the construction phase of the Mersey Gateway, the Trust will establish its science credentials through a number of research and citizen science projects. In particular, the Trust will develop the theme of the Upper Mersey Estuary as a ‘Living Laboratory’ for environmental study.
The individual projects include:
Cattle grazing at Widnes Warth
English Longhorn cattle have been grazing an area of saltmarsh alongside the estuary during 2014.
This is a continuation of a research project which ran from 2010 – 2013 and which looked at the environmental and cultural benefits of saltmarsh grazing. This project continues to provide valuable information for the implementation of mitigation measures for the Mersey Gateway Bridge.
Mersey Gateway Research Programme
The Trust is establishing links with local universities and developing a programme of applied research projects.
Lecturers and students are being invited to make use of Widnes Warth saltmarsh and Wigg Island nature reserve for their studies, including engineering and environmental sciences.
Research with the University of Salford
A research agreement with the University of Salford was signed in 2014. Three demonstration projects have begun, the purpose of which is to verify that certain concepts or theories have the potential for real-world application.
The projects are looking at the effects of contamination on brown shrimps; environmental DNA detection of migratory fish species; and the effects of major civil construction on biodiversity as measured by bio-acoustics.
Two PhD studies began in September 2014, looking at different aspects of the natural environment and the Mersey Gateway Project in the Upper Mersey Estuary.
The first study will address a research question based on the impact of the new Bridge on the ecosystem services provided by the Upper Mersey Estuary. The second study will include research into the management of the different habitats and species within the estuary.
Citizen Science Projects
The Trust has carried out two citizen science projects to date, encouraging everyone to contribute to research and knowledge about the Upper Mersey Estuary.
The first project looked at vegetation change ( ‘natural succession’) under the line of the new bridge with secondary schools under the guiding eye of Cheshire Wildlife Trust and Jeff Clarke Ecology. The second project with Norton Priory Museum Trust investigated the impact of transport and changes to the local area over 900 years of history with local primary schools. The Trust is looking for further projects during 2015.