Conservationists give thumbs up to New Wear Crossing

Wear crossing

Tour of the site: Pictured overlooking the site of the New Wear Crossing on the south side of the river were (from left) Peter Nailon, Gareth Andrews and Paul Atkinson, of the Wear River Trust.

The project to build a new bridge in Sunderland has been given the thumbs up by the Wear Rivers Trust.

Members of the conservation group visited the development site in Pallion to learn about construction methods and the challenges involved, and see progress for themselves.

The New Wear Crossing team has worked alongside members of the Trust since work on the new bridge got underway in May 2015. However, it wasn’t until they visited the development site that they fully appreciated just how complex the project was.

Trust Managing Director Peter Nailon said: “It’s been fascinating. The scale of the development is really impressive. We can really see how it’s coming together, and learning the different methods involved, including the launching of the bridge deck over the river, has been amazing.

“Throughout the development so far, we have been working with Sunderland City Council and the project team to help improve the natural habitat along the river and its connecting streams for wildlife. The council has provided us with support to help us do that, which we have been able to back with additional support from the Environment Agency, so work will be on-going for the next couple of years.”

Last year, volunteers, including staff from Sunderland City Council, construction consortium FVB JV, Faithful+Gould, Atkins, and other partners, spent a day working with the Trust to improve the habitat for fish and wildlife at Rainton Burn, near Houghton-le-Spring.
The Trust and project team are currently looking to organise a similar clean-up day in the new year, and will continue to work closely together to minimise the impact on wildlife along the river during and after construction of the new bridge.

Sunderland City Council Leader, Cllr Paul Watson, said: “I’m delighted the team from the Wear Rivers Trust was able to visit the site of the New Wear Crossing and see for themselves the progress that has been made, particularly in the past couple of months with the assembly of the bridge deck.

“Both the council and the project team working on the new bridge are committed to safeguarding the natural habitat along the river and other watercourses in the area, and are eager not only to protect wildlife, but to enhance it as well.

“We have assisted WWT Washington Wetland Centre in building new holts for otters and these are already starting to pay dividends, with additional otter sightings. Hopefully, future improvements will have similar results.”

The Wear Rivers Trust is always on the lookout for members of the community who would like to volunteer on a range of projects around the River Wear’s catchment. Anyone interested should email

Work on the New Wear Crossing is progressing well, with the first section of bridge deck launched out across the river in mid-October.

More than half a million hours have so far been worked on site, with the project now half way through. When the bridge is opened in the spring of 2018 it will link Castletown on the north side of the river with Pallion on the south and will help to regenerate land along the riverbank, create jobs, and reduce congestion on the city’s roads.

It is the first bridge to be built over the Wear in Sunderland for more than 40 years and is part of the wider strategic transport plan to link the Port of Sunderland and city centre with the A19.

To sign up to receive regular updates on the New Wear Crossing, email asking to be put on the distribution list.

For more information, go to, or call 0800 223 0379

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