The University of Birmingham, the Environment Agency and contractors Sanctus Ltd team have been shortlisted for a European Dam Removal award for their success in removing a concrete weir from the River Cole near Ackers Adventure. The removal of this significant barrier, built 170 years ago, will create a more resilient environment with improved ecological status and will open-up a 14 km stretch of river. Enhancing biodiversity re-naturalising the Cole and providing more green spaces in Birmingham.
It is an absolute honour to be shortlisted for the Dam Removal Awards. This project is improving natural habitats whilst creating a thriving community space and access routes for the residents of Tyseley and Hay Mills, and it is great to see this hard work recognisedProfessor Martin Freer, Director of the Birmingham Energy Institute - University of Birmingham
Thomas Levick, Engineering Manager at Sanctus said: “Sanctus were proud to be selected as partners to assist in the vision of the Cole Catchment. We were able to bring our specialist technical expertise to make a very noticeable and quantifiable positive impact on the project by remediating impacted silts, removing asbestos and fly tipped materials and management of invasive species – let alone the removal of the Weir and opening up 14.5km of the Cole for migration. It was great that the Partners had a clear vision for the project, which allowed everyone involved to buy in and work towards a common goal.
“Following the works delivery the Cole Catchment is a much better place thanks to the collaborative working.”
Adam Noon, Catchment Coordinator at the Environment Agency, said: The removal of this 300-tonne concrete weir along with the 500m3 of contaminated sediments has been an Environment Agency aspiration for 15 years. It was only by working in collaboration with all of these partners that this aspiration has finally become a reality.”
This weir removal is one intervention of the River Cole and Tyseley Energy Park: Creation of Community Commons Project. Part funded by the European Regional Development Fund this project is delivering a programme of blue and green infrastructure improvements across an area stretching along the river Cole from Heybarnes Recreation Ground, via Tyseley Energy Park, to Ackers Adventure.
This collaborative project delivered by the University of Birmingham in partnership with match funding partners the Birmingham City Council, the Environment Agency, the Active Wellbeing Society and Sport England will enhance habitats and biodiversity, improve the sustainability, connectivity, and accessibility of the area. It will also rehabilitate 55 hectares of underutilised urban, green space as an integral link to the local community, creating new public spaces and improving walking and cycling access.
A further aim is to improve the river and habitat connectivity for wildlife, manage bankside trees and woodland to improve visibility and remove invasive species to restore and enhance natural capital.
In addition to habitat improvements a series of community spaces will be created across the project area, including a river viewing platform, play area and meeting spaces. These will be connected by signage and wayfinding installations such as arches, planters and artwork, co-designed with the local community.