Green islands could stretch between Millennium and Tyne bridges if world-first trial succeeds

The island was moved into place on Thursday 14 July. Credit: Groundwork North East and Cumbria

A green 'floating island' has been installed on the Tyne as part of a pilot project to restore biodiversity to the river.

Installed on Thursday 14 July on the Newcastle side of the Quayside, the 1,000 square foot structure aims to provide habitat to creatures above the surface and food to those below.

If the pilot succeeds, organisers plan to extend the project to span the entire kilometre stretch between the Tyne and Millennium bridges.

Its impact will be monitored using underwater cameras and species surveys.

Watching the 'island' being floated into place was a surreal experience for those present. Credit: Groundwork North East and Cumbria

The project is a world-first. No other floating biodiversity island has been installed on a tidal river and is able to rise and fall with the water.

Lisa Stephenson is from the charity Groundwork. They made the project a reality with funding from the Environment Agency and the support of Northumbrian Water and business advocacy group NE1.

"What’s exciting about this project is it’s a real world first to have a floating island on such a dynamic and tidal river," she told ITV News Tyne Tees as the island was being tugged along the river for installation.

She added: "It’s an eco-system that will help bring nature back to the Tyne after it's been lost through years of industrial development."

Halophyte (salt tolerant) plant species typical of the estuary environment will provide a food source for wildlife and opportunities for birds to nest.

The ecosystem is also designed to provide shelter for young and migrating fish. Underneath the structure, the roots and fish refugia (safe habitats in adverse conditions) will create a mini reef system.

And it is hoped the project will benefit human life as well.

Stephen Patterson, Chief Executive of NE1, said: "Every time we ask residents and businesses what they’d like to see more of in this iconic location, they always say greening.

"We’re delighted to be delivering this world first and really trialling a different way of greening the Quayside.

"This is a trial […] and of course over time you could imagine the Quayside flanked on both sides, looking absolutely resplendent and ultimately just creating a nicer space that people want to spend more time in and more money in."

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