The Mersey Gateway Project

Next stage of Merseylink’s tree clearance programme gets underway

September 5, 2014LornaNews

Essential tree-felling work is starting in Halton next week as the next stage of Merseylink’s tree and vegetation clearance programme gets underway.

The Merseylink team will be removing trees and vegetation around the area in September and October. The vast majority will be removed near the Lodge Lane interchange close to the public footpaths that lead to and from Runcorn Shopping Centre (Halton Lea). This will involve close to 1,000 trees being felled during September and October.

During this time, footpaths near the Hallwood Park estate will remain open. However, pedestrian diversions will be in place to ensure the safety of local people using these routes. A Merseylink marshall will also be present while work is taking place.

The trees that are being removed are being re-used in a variety of ways. Wildlife at Knowsley Safari Park is being provided with cuttings and vegetation from felled trees, providing elephants, giraffes and tapirs with food and also ensuring the waste is recycled.

The clearance programme, which involves removing trees and other types of vegetation from sites across Runcorn and Widnes, forms an important part of Merseylink’s preparation for the new scheme.

Most of the clearance work took place at the start of the year but was then put on hold to accommodate the bird-nesting season in spring.

The next phase of the programme is now starting with clearance work scheduled for a number of locations in Halton throughout September and October.

This includes:

  • Ditton junction
  • Weston Point junction
  • Halton Brow along the Central Expressway
  • M56 junction 12
  • Halton Lea along the Central Expressway
  • Hallwood Park

Where appropriate, new trees and vegetation will be planted along the project route as part of the Mersey Gateway landscaping scheme. In addition to this, the Mersey Gateway Environmental Trust is looking to replant an equivalent area of woodland elsewhere in Halton to ensure there is no reduction in the overall number of trees in the area.

Other woodchip material will be collected at the end of the tree clearance programme and used as biofuel. This is in addition to the 16 tonnes of timber removed from Wigg Island in 2012 that was recycled into chipboard.

Merseylink Project Director, Stephen Cardwell, said: “The Mersey Gateway Project is already bringing new jobs and investment opportunities to the area and this tree clearance work is absolutely essential to allow construction to take place.”

He added: “There will be extensive planting of new trees across Halton as we move forward as part of Merseylink’s landscaping and reinstatement scheme. The work is being undertaken in accordance with the powers granted to the project, allowing works and tree removal as necessary to deliver the new Mersey Gateway Bridge.”

Residents who have queries about the tree-felling programme are advised to contact Merseylink.

The economic, transport and social benefits that the project will bring to the region include:

  • 470 permanent full-time equivalent jobs on site during construction;
  • 4,640 permanent direct and indirect jobs;
  • £61.9 million a year in Gross Value Added from the new jobs by 2030.

When it opens in 2017, both the new bridge and the Silver Jubilee Bridge will be tolled, but they will be free* to all Halton residents.

*Residents of Halton will still need to register to use the bridges and there will be a small charge for this.

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