First Green Shoots for Tunnel Landscape

With construction of the second Tyne vehicle Tunnel nearing completion, work is now underway to transform the landscape above it. Residents from East Howdon, north of the Tyne, and Jarrow, south of the river, met on site this week to plant the first tree on the New Tyne Crossing site.

Linda Whitworth, who sits on the management committee for East Howdon Community Association, and Mary Finnegan, a Jarrow resident representative on the New Tyne Crossing Partnering Forum, braved the snow to celebrate the start of tree planting.

25,000 predominantly native trees including Birch, Cherries, Hawthorn  and Oak have already been delivered to site for the first phase of tree planting, which will begin above the tunnel in North Tyneside in a landscaping campaign that will see community visions for the area brought to fruition.

Many thousand more trees, shrubs, bulbs and seeds remain to be planted along the site before landscaping is completed later next year.

Linda said: “The communities have been so closely involved in the design of the new landscape that we feel a great sense of ownership and pride. This really has been a community-led process and I’m confident that when the works here have finished the landscape will become a focal point for the area.”

Mary said: “The start of landscaping gives the people of Jarrow something to look forward to. Hopefully it will attract wildlife and I’m pleased the landscape plans are focussed towards our local children. The organisations behind the project have always encouraged local people to consider the benefits it will bring to the area – as far as I’m concerned this wonderful landscaping is the main one!”

PHOTO - left to right, Mary Finnegan and Linda Whitworth plant the first tree north of the newly built tolls plaza in North Tyneside

A major public consultation was undertaken last year to find out what people would like to see in the landscape master plan. Hundreds of comments were received and the final designs for the New Tyne Crossing sites north and south of the Tyne were based upon this public feedback.

Paul Fenwick, Project Director for the Tyne and Wear Integrated Transport Authority, the project promoter, said: “From outset of the project we were determined to ensure that local people were able to influence the final landscape designs. The landscape is a one of the main legacies the project will leave to local communities, which is why it’s so important that it reflects the expectations of people living nearby. It’s very exciting to see the greening of the tunnel corridor underway.”

The landscaping works are being carried out by North East firm, Brambledown, on behalf of main design and build contractor for the New Tyne Crossing, Bouygues Travaux Publics UK.

Ian Johnson, Business Manager of Brambledown, said: “Having installed much of the northern approach landscaping many years ago and recently undertaken the tree clearance works to make way for the new construction, we are delighted to have the opportunity to be involved in the installation of the new landscape in the Tunnel corridor. We already have a legacy of many large schemes in North and South Tyneside over the past 35 years and are excited to be adding to our portfolio such a major scheme for the region.” 

Bouygues Travaux Publics UK has also looked to involve local social enterprises as much as possible in this phase of the works.

Nicolas Caille, Project Managing Director for Bouygues, said: “Although Brambledown will deliver the main landscaping services for the project, there are some activities that can be contracted to social enterprises. Justice Prince has already been appointed to deliver some tasks and we’ve been very pleased with their standard of work. We’re delighted to be able to provide employment and work experience for those people who need it most.”

Justice Prince is a Community Interest Company that is contracted to North Tyneside Council to deliver a Future Job Fund programme.

David Embleton, the Gardening Team Manager at Justice Prince, said: “We’re absolutely delighted to have been chosen by Bouygues Travaux Publics UK to carry out gardening works at the Wallsend site. It has given us a real boost and a fantastic opportunity for our community gardening team to show what they can do. It’s just so brilliant because the team working on the site are all local young men and women who have previously found it quite difficult to find work. What a fabulous opportunity!”

Trevor Jackson, Managing Director for TT2, the New Tyne Crossing Concessionaire, said: “I hope the start of landscaping will be a clear signal to our patient communities and customers that, after several years of construction, we’re moving into the final phase of works. The unavoidable disruption associated with a scheme of this scale will soon be a distant memory and the legacy of the project – the new river crossing and the re-landscaped grounds will be enjoyed by many for years to come.”

PHOTO - left to right, Mary Finnegan and Linda Whitworth plant the first tree north of the newly built tolls plaza in North Tyneside